MANILA (UPDATED)- President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the Philippines will borrow around $300 million to purchase a coronavirus vaccine.
Duterte issued the statement after Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced that their experimental vaccine is more than 90 percent effective against the deadly disease.
"Nandito na ang bakuna. It's being solved. Not good to assume there's a black market for that. But (Finance Sec.) Sonny (Dominguez) says he can borrow money... 300 million dollars. Malaki 'yan. So makapabili tayo. But I think it would do us well to realize that unahin talaga nila mga tao nila," Duterte said in a public briefing.
(The vaccine's here. It's being solved. Not good to assume there's a black market for that. But Sonny says he can borrow money... 300 million dollars. That's a huge amount. So we can buy. But I think it would do us well to realize that they will prioritize their people first.)
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The firms said they have found no serious safety concerns so far and expect to seek US authorization this November for emergency use of the vaccine.
"Hindi na talaga nakakatakot ang COVID. But sa ngayon, magbili ka mahal. But as I have promised, gastos ng gobyerno itong bakuna para sa lahat ng Pilipino. Kaya umpisahan natin sa mga mahirap," Duterte said.
(COVID is not that scary anymore. But for now, it's expensive if you buy a vaccine. But as I have promised, the government will cover the vaccine costs for all Filipinos. The poor will be inoculated first.)
Duterte in July said the Philippine military will be the "implementing arm" of the country's coronavirus immunization program.
The Philippines earlier Tuesday registered 1,347 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total number of infections to 399,749. The country has 30,169 active infections, accounting for 7.5 percent of the total cases.
The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has claimed 7,661 lives in the Philippines, according to the health department. The total number of recovered patients stands at 361,919, which accounts for 90.5 percent of the total recorded cases.