Duterte calls for Asean cooperation in developing vaccine vs COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to enhance cooperation in developing a vaccine to treat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
During the virtual Special Asean Plus Three Summit, the President committed to the Philippines’ participation in studying a possible cure for the virus.
“We must significantly enhance scientific cooperation, particularly in the area of vaccine and anti-viral treatment research and development,” Duterte said.
“The Philippines is ready to participate in clinical trials and medical studies of potential vaccines and medicines such as Avigan,” he added.
The President further stressed that a “treatment must be found sooner rather than later.”
“Our duty then and that of relevant multilateral institutions is to make sure that all countries will have fair and easy access to vaccines and treatments,” he noted.
Duterte also mentioned the need to strengthen the capacity of healthcare systems.
“We call for the increased production and the facilitation of trade of vital medical equipment and supplies in our region. We support the creation of regional reserves of medical supplies to better equip us in this fight,” he said.
He also said Asian must ensure food security by refraining from imposing “unnecessary” trade restrictions on goods.
“Imposing unnecessary trade restrictions on staple foods, such as rice, and other basic commodities will be harmful to everyone. We have to keep ASEAN markets open and ensure supply chain connectivity,” he said.
“We must also utilize existing mechanisms, such as the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve,” he added.
The President likewise seized the chance to thank China, Japan, and South Korea for its assistance to the Philippines.
“We thank our dialogue partners – China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea – for choosing this path. We are grateful for your timely and generous assistance in our time of great need especially those on the end of the line,” he said.
The Philippines has breached the 5,000 mark after recording 291 new cases to reach a total of 5,223 cases of COVID-19, with 335 fatalities.
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