As Omicron threat looms, Duterte tells anti-vaxxers: Do you want to die or live longer?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2021 12:23 AM | Updated as of Nov 30 2021 01:38 AM

Quezon City residents receive their COVID-19 vaccine dose at the Batasan Hills National High School on Nov. 29, 2021, the start of the
Quezon City residents receive their COVID-19 vaccine dose at the Batasan Hills National High School on Nov. 29, 2021, the start of the "National COVID-19 Vaccination Day". Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

 MANILA — As threats of the Omicron variant make COVID-19 vaccination more urgent, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said those who refuse to get vaccinated have a choice between dying or living longer. 

"Iyong ayaw magpabakuna, madali lang man ‘yan. Mamili ka: matagal kang mabuhay o gusto mo nang mamamatay?" Duterte during a meeting with the National Task Force Against COVID-19. 

"‘Pag kumapit ‘yang COVID na iyan, hindi pa natin alam itong Omicron, patay na. Mamili kayo: early demise or live longer," he added. 

(Those who do not want to get vaccinated, that is easy. Choose: live longer or do you want to die? If COVID infects you, we don't even know this Omicron, you're dead. Choose: early demise or live longer.)

Duterte said it would be “unfair” if unvaccinated people spread the novel coronavirus. 

"As a worker of government also charged with the overall operation of the government, I may agree with the task force if they decide to make it mandatory. It’s for public health," he said. 

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Video courtesy of RTVM 

The Philippines earlier Monday launched an ambitious drive to vaccinate 9 million people against COVID-19 in 3 days. 

Three million daily vaccinations would be nearly quadruple the national average of 829,000 during November.

Carlito Galvez, the country's vaccination chief, said the new Omicron variant had made the campaign even more important.

"It is better to be prepared for the effects of Omicron," , he told CNN Philippines.

Omicron, which the World Health Organization has described as a "variant of concern", has yet to be detected in the Philippines. Its spread has sparked global travel restrictions and rattled financial markets. 

The Philippines has been dealing with one of Asia's worst COVID-19 outbreaks and its vaccine rollout has been slower than many neighbors, with just over a third of its 110 million population inoculated.

Average new daily infections have fallen sharply to 1,644 in November from 18,579 in September, paving the way for a wider economic reopening.

Vaccination rates are uneven, however, with 93 percent of the capital region's eligible residents inoculated compared with 11 percent in the poorest parts of the south. 

— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters