Is vaccine from China safe? Duterte says it’s a modern, capable country
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has allayed fears over the country’s possible use of COVID-19 vaccines made by China, calling the Asian superpower as a modern and capable country.
“Those of you are asking me if [this vaccine from] China is safe — well, I can say that China is a modern country, and it has all the wherewithals to make its country, whose integrity is fully protected by its achievements,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino, in his pre-recorded public address on Wednesday.
“But if they would make an offer — I am waiting for China or Russia to call me — I’d be glad to open up my sleeves because I am confident with their vaccine,” he added.
Earlier in his address, Duterte said the government already had the money to buy COVID-19 vaccines, but it was not enough. So he would continue looking for more sources of funds to ensure that the whole population could get inoculated.
“This I can assure you: I have found some money. I have the money already for the vaccine, but I will look for more money because you know there are now 113 million Filipinos, and to me, ideally, all should have the vaccine — without exception,” Duterte said.
“I want my soldiers, including the other security forces of the country, to be part of the first batch [to be inoculated] because soldiers and police officers need to ready, healthy, and without COVID. They are really vital to the security of the state […] We civilians can be last,” he added.
Recently, the World Health Organization revealed that COVID-19 vaccines might be available by the end of the year, contrary to the belief that the vaccine might not be available until mid-2021.
As of now, nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), which is led by the World Health Organization. COVAX aims to distribute two billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.
This is not the first time that Duterte hinted at buying vaccines from either China or Russia —and not from companies or governments in the West.
Last September, Duterte slammed Western pharmaceutical companies for prioritizing profit over curing the coronavirus, as some firms were asking for an advance payment — sort of a reservation fee — for a country to avail of vaccines.
This made Duterte lean towards China and Russia, especially since China — where the coronavirus originated — saying that it would prioritize the Philippines.
But the Duterte administration’s stance of waiting for other countries to develop a COVID-29 vaccine has been slammed by the opposition, most notably by Vice President Leni Robredo. According to her, there is concrete proof that other countries, as shown in the Lancet COVID-19 Commission Study last September, have already beaten the coronavirus while waiting for vaccines.