Duque insists PH vaccine rollout not 'mishandled,' rich countries 'cornered' supply | Inquirer News
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Duque insists PH vaccine rollout not ‘mishandled,’ rich countries ‘cornered’ supply

/ 10:58 AM March 02, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday said that government did not mishandle the purchase of coronavirus vaccines that resulted in the delay in the country’s vaccination rollout.

In an interview over ABS-CBN New Channel, Duque echoed the sentiments of President Rodrigo Duterte and of the World Health Organization (WHO) that rich countries have cornered a huge bulk of the world’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines, leaving poor countries scrambling for supplies.

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“I’d like to disagree because the global supply is the big problem,” Duque said when asked about Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s statement that the government mishandled the vaccine procurement process which delayed the arrival of vaccines to the country.

“Ten countries have already secured 75 percent of the global supply and even the WHO (World Health Organization) has missed on its target to get the poorer countries to get off with their vaccination, 130 countries,” Duque went on.

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“‘Yung masakit na problema [ay] yung supply, na-corner ng mga mayayamang bansa. Look at the Covax facility with all the [participation of] Unicef and the WHO, so talagang dito mo makikita na [it’s] pointing to the underlying problem [of] supply shortage, so nahuli. January pa nga sinasabi ng WHO na maguumpisa sila together with the richer countries, pero ano? ‘Di naman natuloy,” Duque said.

Duque’s remarks paralleled Duterte’s, who earlier lamented how the European Union is supposedly holding hostage Covid-19 vaccines developed by the British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

“Let’s just hope for the best. The problem is yung bakuna… E yung AstraZeneca hinostage ng European Union. Sa Europe kasi parang isa na lang sila. Wala na silang distinction kaya ganun ang ginagawa nila,” said the President.

(Let’s just hope for the best. The problem is the vaccine. The European Union held AstraZeneca hostage. In Europe, they are like one. They don’t have distinctions that’s why they’re doing that.)

WHO also lamented that countries seeking their own COVID-19 vaccine doses are making deals with drug companies, threatening the supply for the global COVAX program for poor and middle-income countries, and compromising the COVAX supply.

COVAX, a global mechanism under the WHO to provide countries equitable access to the vaccine, has pointed to the global supply shortage.

“‘Yung masakit na problema [ay] yung supply, na-corner ng mga mayayamang bansa. Look at the Covax facility with all the [participation of] Unicef and the WHO, so talagang dito mo makikita na [it’s] pointing to the underlying problem [of] supply shortage, so nahuli. January pa nga sinasabi ng WHO na maguumpisa sila together with the richer countries, pero ano? ‘Di naman natuloy,” Duque said.

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(The problem is the supply, it was cornered by the rich countries. Look at the Covax facility with all the participation of Unicef and WHO, it shows that it’s pointing to the underlying problem of supply shortage. WHO said it would rollout the Covax facility together with richer countries in January, but what? It was not able to push through.)

The Philippines was able to kickstart its Covid-19 vaccination program on Monday  after receiving some 600,000 doses of the vaccine developed by China-based Sinovac.

The government’s inoculation drive was supposed to kickstart in mid-February with the arrival of 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility. However, the delivery was delayed due to a hitch in paperwork processing.

As of Feb. 18, the government and the WHO were still waiting for the indemnity agreements with Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, which are needed to finalize the delivery of the vaccines through Covax.

Over 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine were also supposed to be delivered on Monday but Duque earlier said the delivery will be delayed by one week due to global supply issues.

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TAGS: COVID-19 Vaccine, Health Secretary Francsico Duque III, Nation, News, vaccine rollout
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