MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night again thanked China for donating COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, supposedly augmenting the country's limited jab supply.
Duterte made the remark following Health Secretary Francisco Duque III's discussion on the country's COVID-19 situation.
"Ang problema talaga natin . . . sa Pilipinas, kulang ang bakuna. Nagbibili tayo ng kung saan-saan at dumadating na ngayon paunti-unti. Were it not for the donation of China, zero. We started with nothing," said Duterte.
(Our main problem here in the country is the limited vaccine supplies. We already tried buying everywhere, and it is arriving in small batches.)
"We could continue preventing sickness, hospitalization and everything kung may bakuna na tayo at na-distribute na natin sa lahat ng corners ng Pilipinas," he added.
(If we have enough vaccine doses, those could be distributed to different corners of the country.)
The Philippines has so far received 3.5 million vaccine doses from China's Sinovac, 1 million of which have been donated.
As of May 4, the total number of Filipinos who already received their 2nd vaccine dose reached 320,586, accounting for 0.46 percent of the government's target 70 million by the end of the year.
Out of the 4,040,600 doses that reached the country, 3,970,680 or 98 percent have already been distributed to local government units since the country's inoculation rollout on Mar. 1.
Duterte said the slow vaccine rollout is because of limited vaccine shots.
"Ang problema bakuna. Hindi that we are not doing anything, or that we are not doing it properly. Who would ever think that there would be a pandemune (sic) an epidemic, a pandemic," he said.
The President earlier this week was inoculated against COVID-19 using China's Sinopharm vaccine, which has yet to receive regulatory approval in the Philippines.
The country has received supplies of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Russia's Gamaleya Institute.