MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he asked China to give the Philippines priority and credit when it comes up with a vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has infected 16 million worldwide and battered various economies into recession.
Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address, said the vaccine was "a global need and everyone will go for it."
"About 4 days ago, I made a plea to [Chinese] President Xi Jinping that if they have he vaccine, can they allow us to be one of the first or if it’s needed, if we have to buy it, that we will be granted credit so that we can normalize as fast as possible," Duterte said.
The President did not say how the Chinese leader responded.
Chinese firms are responsible for 2 of the 3 most advanced coronavirus vaccines that had entered Phase 3 trials, or large-scale testing on humans -- the last step before regulatory approval.
The third experimental vaccine on Phase 3 was developed by Oxford University in Britain and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
The US last week indicted 2 Chinese nationals for allegedly seeking to steal coronavirus vaccine research and hacking hundreds of companies. Beijing in turn accused the United States of "slander."
The pandemic coronavirus has killed more than 645,715 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, with more than 16 million people infected, according to an Agence France-Presse tally on Sunday based on official sources.
With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; and Agence France-Presse