MANILA - The Philippines will be able to buy a coronavirus vaccine once it is developed and deemed effective, President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday, saying he has found funds to purchase the vaccine.
"Nakahanap na ako ng pera. I have the money already for the vaccine, but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera because there are already 113 (million) Filipinos. And to me, ideally, all should have the vaccine without exception," he said in a public briefing.
(I have found funds. I have the money already for the vaccine, but I will still find other sources of funds because there are already 113 million Filipinos today. And to me, ideally, all should have the vaccine without exception.)
A worldwide race for a coronavirus vaccine is underway, with at least 9 pharmaceutical firms in the US and Europe in late-stage trials. Russian and Chinese firms are also developing their own vaccines against the illness.
Duterte said poor citizens will be inoculated first when the vaccine arrives and is distributed in the Philippines.
"Ang mauna, mga mahirap. Mga walang pera, 'di makabayad."
Soldiers and police officers will also undergo the treatment, so they can continue to serve at the frontlines, he added.
"Tayo, kaming mga civilians, pwede tayo [last]," Duterte said.
He said in July the Philippine military will be the "implementing arm" of the country's coronavirus immunization program.
Coronavirus cases in the Philippines have been rising since early March, and in recent weeks, the Department of Health has been recording thousands of infections daily.
As of Wednesday, a total of 346,536 cases have been logged in the country.
Since the start of the pandemic, 38.1 million people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), with 1,086,315 deaths and almost 26.5 million recoveries worldwide.