MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday the Philippines' first vaccine for the novel coronavirus might come from China, where the infectious disease originated as well.
Duterte, in a taped address aired Friday, appealed to Filipinos for patience, saying he hopes that the situation would go back to normal by December.
"I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal," he said.
"Ang una nga makuha siguro natin from China," he added, noting that China's Sinopharm and Sinovac have reported progress in their inactive vaccines.
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.
During his fifth State of the Nation Address, Duterte told Filipinos that he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to prioritize the Philippines once China develops a vaccine.
China, in turn, gave its word as it emphasized that the Philippines has been a "friendly close neighbor."
"Nangako sila na may priority tayo," the President said.
(They promised to prioritize us.)
"Hintayin lang ninyo by December kung makatiis kayo kasi kung maglabas kayo patay din eh," the President told Filipinos.
(Just wait by December because if you go out now, you will also die.)
The rapidly spreading COVID-19 was first reported in China in December last year and has since become a global health and economic crisis that has infected over 17 million worldwide and battered various economies into recession.
While leaders such as US President Donald Trump have been criticial of China over the pandemic, Duterte has been supportive of Beijing, even thanking the East Asian nation for its support to the Philippines during the crisis.
The Philippines as of Thursday confirmed 89,374 COVID-19 infections, of which, 22,327 are active.