The Philippines will buy vaccines against COVID-19, President Rodrigo Duterte assured the nation late Monday. If it is too expensive, he said he would ask Beijing and Moscow if Manila could pay in installments.
A vaccine is the "only salvation available to humankind" at this time, Duterte said in his weekly midnight address, this time from Davao City. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week his country had developed the world's first COVID-19 vaccine.
Duterte thanked Putin and China's President Xi Jinping for "offering" their vaccines to the Philippines. "I cannot overemphasize my debt of gratitude," he said.
"Remember, this is not for free. After all, they did not develop the vaccine without great expense," he said. "Bibilhin natin yan, kaya lang kung mahal (We will buy it. However, if it's expensive), if it's quite expensive, then I will ask my friend, Pres. Putin and Pres. Xi Jinping, to give us a credit line, but we will pay not one payment, but by installments."
"Basta ang sinasabi ko, magbayad tayo hindi ito libre (this is not for free)... If we are short of money at this time because all of he economies of the world, individual countries have fallen flat. Lahat ngayon, nagkakaroon ng economic hemorrhage," he said.
Human trials are sheduled later this year for at least five vaccine candidates from China and Taiwan, according to Gloriani. The Philippines is also part of the World Health Organization's solidarity trials, which will move faster since it involves simultaneous tests in multiple countries.
Manila is also part of the global vaccine alliance COVAX and committed to secure at least 3 million doses. The Department of Health also set aside at least P2.4 billion to buy vaccines once they are available.
The Philippines, through the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, will buy enough vaccines for an initial 20 million people. At two doses each and at $10 per dose, the vaccination program could cost $400 million or P20 billion, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez said.