President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday a COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of the year and life in the Philippines could go "back to normal" by December. Duterte said Manila's options include vaccines made by China.
Duterte said he would make the vaccine available for free to the poor, and even to middle-income Filipinos. "Meron akong bakuna... Magtiis kayo ng konti dahil sa hawaan, madami nahahawa dahil ayaw papigil (I have a vaccine... We just need to be patient, many could catch the disease if you don't follow)."
Up to five vaccine candidates are on Phase 3 human trials, the last step before commercial availability, said Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez. These include three from China and one each from the U.S. and the U.K., he said.
The Philippines, through the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, would 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, Dominguez said.
"We have a plan and we can execute it as soon as the DOH chooses which vaccine or vaccines they want," Dominguez said. "Certainly, by late this year, if it's available we can already buy it. It should be available for free to the poorest bof the poor."
Duterte said he would order the military to take charge of the vaccination.