Duterte: Poor Filipinos first-takers of COVID-19 vaccine once available

01-Aug-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 6:02 AM Print This Post

President Rodrigo Duterte said the beneficiaries of cash assistance from the government and the sick will be among the first to receive coronavirus vaccines once they become available in the market.

Duterte, who is pinning hopes on coronavirus vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firms, asked the public for patience, saying he hopes the situation would return to normal by December.

“I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal,” he said.

Those who will be given priority access to coronavirus vaccine include poor Filipinos and hospitalised patients.

“Ang mauna ‘yung mga walang-wala and of course, ‘yung mga nasa hospital ‘yung mga sick or dying. Ang una ‘yung mga tao sa listahan na tumatanggap ng assistance sa gobyerno,” Duterte said.

Second on the list of people who will receive free vaccine from the government are the middle-income Filipinos.

The chief executive said the police and the militarythe “backbone” of Duterte’s administrationwill be third in line.

“‘Yung mga upper income, magbili na lang kayo,” the chief executive said.

The government’s plan is to conduct the vaccination of 20 million peopleor 18.5 percent of the country’s 108 million population. Finance Secretary said the government is allotting P20 billion for the plan to purchase at least 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Beijing on Wednesday said it would give priority access to the Philippines once it successfully develops a coronavirus vaccine after Duterte “made a plea” to Chinese president Xi Jinping to prioritise the country when providing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chinese biopharmaceutical companies are responsible for three of the five vaccines that have moved into Phase 3 trials or large-scale testing on humans.

Military as implementing arm

Duterte, who has been criticised for his militarised response to a public health emergency such as COVID-19 pandemic, said he is assigning the Armed Forces of the Philippines to carry out the immunisation drive.

“There’s set-up, may task force. But implementing arm is military,” he said.

He later on said in his speech that nurses in “nearest police stations” may be tapped for the vaccination programme.

Since Duterte declared a public health emergency over the country, there has been heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures, prompting critics to voice concerns on the heavy-handed measures imposed by the government.

Duterte also tasked retired military generals such as Peace Process Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to lead the government’s coronavirus response.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far sickened 89,374 people in the Philippines, with 1,983 deaths.



Category: Philippines

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