Duterte asks Xi: Prioritize PH for COVID-19 vaccine

President Duterte arrives for a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in this May 15, 2017, file photo.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has made a plea to Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow the Philippines to be among the first to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine from them once it is available.

“Let me just mention it in passing that four days ago, I made a plea to President Xi Jinping that if they have the vaccine, can they allow us to be one of the first — or if it is needed if we have to buy it that we will be granted credit so that we can normalize as fast as possible,” Duterte said in his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday.

The Philippine government has already reached out to various COVID-19 vaccine developers from the United States, Taiwan, China, and the United Kingdom for possible purchase once vaccines have been found and become available.

Duterte has repeatedly vowed to source out funds to provide Filipinos with COVID-19 vaccines, even saying that he would sell government properties if necessary.

Over 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are currently in development worldwide.

More than 16.2 million people worldwide have been infected with SARS-CoV-2—the new coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19—since it was first detected in Hubei, China late last year.

In the Philippines, the COVID-19 caseload already breached the 80,000 mark.