Duterte will get COVID-19 vaccine shot in private
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will be given the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available in the Philippines, but he will be vaccinated behind closed doors, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the public would be informed if the vaccine had been administered to Mr. Duterte.
Roque was answering a question about the President’s willingness to take the first shot of CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine made by the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech.
He said he had talked to Mr. Duterte about the question and the President had responded, “No problem, I will take the vaccine as soon as it is available.”
The President knows he has to be inoculated against COVID-19, Roque said.
“But he said it does not have to be shown to the public. He is taking the route of the British sovereign because the decision of Queen Elizabeth and her husband was to make their vaccination private,” he added.
Mr. Duterte has expressed his preference for CoronaVac or Sputnik V, the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia.
The Philippines is expected to receive next month the first 50,000 doses of the 25 million doses of CoronaVac it is planning to buy.
Also expected next month is the first batch of the vaccine made by the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The Pfizer vaccine is the first to be granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
China is also donating 500,000 doses of CoronaVac to the Philippines, with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian vouching on Tuesday for its safety and promoting it as “very suitable” for tropical countries.
Emergency use permit
The Department of Health (DOH), however, said any donated vaccine could not be used in the country without being granted emergency use authorization by the FDA.
Sinovac has applied for emergency permit for CoronaVac with the FDA, but the regulator has found the company’s papers incomplete.
The government aims to begin immunization next month, hoping to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of the country’s population, this year.
The Philippines has one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases in Asia.
On Tuesday, the DOH reported 1,357 additional coronavirus infections, raising the overall number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 504,804.
The DOH said 324 more patients had recovered, bringing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 466,249. But the death toll rose to 9,978 with the deaths of 69 more patients.
The deaths and recoveries left the country with 27,857 active cases, of which 86.1 percent were mild, 6.1 percent asymptomatic, 0.42 percent moderate, 2.7 percent severe, and 4.7 percent critical.
—With reports from Patricia Denise M. Chiu, Tina G. Santos and Reuters
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