Duterte ‘hopeful’ about COVID-19 vaccine development

Amid the global race to come up with a safe and effective drug to fight the coronavirus pandemic, President Duterte is "most hopeful" about the vaccine development being done by China, Malacañang said Thursday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disclosed the President's preference for the potential China-made vaccine even as pharmaceutical firms from other countries are also making progress in the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus disease.

"All the vaccines are undergoing third- and final-phase clinical tests," Roque said during a press briefing in Bataan.

"The President is most hopeful with China but he has also said that Johnson and Johnson is on track," he added.

Citing latest information, Roque also said Moderna, a pharmaceutical firm based in the United States, has also produced "very promising results" in the third phase of clinical trials of its potential vaccine.

Roque said the Philippines is likewise closely coordinating with Russian authorities on its potential COVID-19 vaccine. He noted that proposed Sputnik V vaccine will undergo third clinical trials both in Russia and the Philippines.

"Iyong sa England po nag-resume na sila, panandaliang tinigil (the England-based firm  has resumed the trials after briefly stopping the trial)," he said.

According to Roque, the global race to find the coronavirus vaccine will be good for the people as the pandemic has infected more than 34.1 million across the world.

"Now alam ninyo naman po kasi ang nature ng pharmaceutical industries ‘no, nag-uunahan po iyan which is good for us ‘no. Nag-uunahan iyan at alam po nila kung sino mauna, sila po iyong kikita nang pinakamalaki (Now you know the nature of pharmaceutical industries. They are trying to be the first which is good for us. They know whoever becomes first, it will earn the biggest)," he said.

"So let’s hope that the free market this time will really come to our rescue and will incentivize the drug manufacturers to come up with vaccine sooner than later," he said.

The President earlier said the government will buy the most affordable vaccine that will be sold in the market give its limited resources.  Under the Bayanihan 2 law, the government has a standby fund of P10 billion for COVID testing and procurement of medicines and vaccines.

Duterte also remained optimistic the situation will return to normal by December once the vaccine becomes available. The government’s immunization drive will prioritize the poor, soldiers, and police and the middle class families.