Duterte: Talk of COVID vaccine booster shots ‘a selfish act’, amid uneven distribution of doses

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2021 06:44 AM | Updated as of Sep 22 2021 08:30 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte brought up the unequal global distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses during the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, saying poor nations have suffered because of what he called "a man-made drought of vaccines."

Duterte also assailed any discussion about booster shots in advanced economies and called it "a selfish act", as many countries struggled to acquire doses to even fully immunize their population.

"Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccine, while poor nations wait for trickles," the President said.

"The now talk of booster shots while developing countries consider half doses just to get by — this is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is, a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally or morally."

Duterte also "strongly urged privileged partners" in the international community to back the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.

"The plain fact is this pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated everywhere," he said.

The Philippines is fighting one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, with infections crossing 2.4 million on Tuesday and overall deaths topped 37,000.

Government aims to inoculate 70 percent of the country's 109 people before the year ends to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy. At least 18.5 million people have been fully vaccinated so far. 

China's Sinovac vaccine makes up about half of around 64.9 million COVID-19 shots that the Philippines has received so far. 

The total includes 15.8 million jabs from COVAX, which pledged to cover 20 percent of Filipinos, according to a Reuters tally. 

Philippine authorities have yet to approve the use of booster shots, following calls for vaccine top-ups for health workers. 

The World Health Organization earlier this month urged countries to "hold back" on booster shots as experts have yet to see "any evidence" that an additional vaccine dose could prevent breakthrough infections. 

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