MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is "within sight" as the Philippines secures vaccine jabs against the respiratory disease that has led to nearly a year-long lockdown and economic recession.
Duterte said this in a taped message as local government units and private firms helped lock in 17 million doses so far of the COVID-19 vaccine from British drugs group AstraZeneca.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel. National recovery is within sight. As we bounce back and heal as one, I commend the business community and the LGUs for your ramping of support for our nation’s fight against COVID-19," the President said.
Duterte pledged his "full support" for the initiative that he called "bayanihan at work."
"We now have the weapon to defeat this virus – the vaccine. And let us win the war and save lives and livelihood," he said.
The Philippines has also secured 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech, and 30 million doses from the Serum Institute of India.
The country might also receive an initial vaccine batch from SU-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya Institute in February, said Malacañang.
The Philippines has trailed regional peers in securing vaccines, with which it hopes this year to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population.
The government has also had difficulties convincing the public to use vaccines in recent years and an opinion poll last week showed less than a third of people were willing to get inoculated against the coronavirus, with concerns over safety.