The government can borrow $300 million to purchase the coronavirus vaccines for distribution to Filipinos, President Duterte said Tuesday amid the reported breakthrough in vaccine development abroad.
In baring the government’s vaccine acquisition plans, the President said the new coronavirus disease is no longer scary as some pharmaceutical firms in the United States and China have made progress in developing the life-saving vaccines.
According to Duterte, there is “hope for mankind” as the coronavirus vaccines are within reach.
“Nandito na ang bakuna so it is being sold…(Finance Secretary) Sonny (Dominguez) says that he can borrow money of 300 million plus to … 300 million dollars malaki yan. Makabili tayo (Sonny says he can borrow 300 million dollars, that’s huge, so we can buy the vaccines),” he said in his televised address Tuesday night.
“Pfizer of America mayroon na sila so hindi na nakakatakot talaga ang COVID but sa ngayon, magbili ka mahal (Pfizer of America already has it so COVID is no longer frightening. But for now, it will be expensive to buy the vaccines),” he added.
Duterte however admitted that the country would get the vaccine supply in “due time” given that the foreign pharmaceutical firms will naturally prioritize their nations first. In the United States, he noted that the federal government has made a first installment for the vaccine supply for its citizens.
“You can expect that within the few months, until next year, all the vaccines produced will be used by the Americans,” he said.
As soon as more vaccine supply becomes available, Duterte committed that the government would give priority to the country’s poor in the distribution of the life-saving drug. He claimed that those belonging in classes A, B and C could afford to buy their own vaccine.
“Mga kababayan ko, basta mabakunahan kayo. Kailan? Maghintay lang tayo. Pera? makahiram tayo agad (To my countrymen, you will be vaccinated. When? Let’s just wait. Money? we can borrow funds),” he said.
“Ang supply ang problema. Kung sino yung country na nakaimbento, natural unahin niya tao niya (The problem is the supply. The country that invents the vaccine, it is natural to prioritize their people). That’s the reality of life so the vaccine is near. There is hope for mankind,” he added.
Pleased with the vaccine development efforts, Duterte also said he no longer fears the coronavirus. “For the succeeding generations, mga anak at mga apo ko (my children, my grandchildren) I’m confident with thought they have a refuge which they can take shelter dito sa COVID storm,” he added.
The President’s movement has been limited by his security team in recent months to ensure his health and safety from the coronavirus pandemic.
The 75-year-old leader has moved to gradually relax the country’s strict lockdown and further open up the economy to revive business activity and livelihood. The country has so far logged more than 399,000 cases of coronavirus with 7,661 deaths.