Philippines to prioritize supply of COVID-19 vaccines from Russia or China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Image Credit: AP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday pledged to prioritize the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine to be made available by Russia or China, while lashing out at pharmaceutical companies in Western countries asking for advance payment for their offers.

Duterte expressed optimism that the Southeast Asian country, which has recorded the region’s highest number of coronavirus cases with nearly 266,000, would be “back to normal” by now December, placing his hopes on the availability of vaccines.

“We will give preference to Russia and China provided their vaccine is as good as any other on the market,” he said in a late-night televised address.

However, any vaccine purchase by the Philippines will have to go through a competitive bidding process, he said.

The Philippine government has held talks with a number of potential vaccine suppliers, including Russia, China, US drug maker Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc. It is also planning to hold talks with the Australian biotech giant. CSL Ltd.

They want a cash advance before they deliver the vaccine. If so, then we will all die.

– Rodrigo Duterte | Philippine President

Duterte singled out China, which he said was different from other countries seeking “reservation fees” or prepayment.

“The only good thing about China is that you don’t have to beg, you don’t have to plead,” he said. “One thing is wrong in Western countries, everything is profit, profit, profit.” Moscow and Manila have agreed to work on clinical trials for the Russian vaccine.

Duterte did not name any drug companies asking for prepayment, but he warned their representatives in Manila to return home.

He said the Philippine government procurement law prohibits the government from purchasing anything that does not exist or has not yet been produced.

“They want you to fund their research and the development of the vaccine,” he said. “They want a cash advance before they deliver the vaccine. If it does, then we will all die.”

Darcy J. Skinner

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