Duterte seeks equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines among Filipinos

Published March 2, 2021, 12:12 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

With the highly-anticipated delivery of additional vaccine supplies in the coming months, President Duterte has called for the equitable distribution of the life-saving vaccines across the country.

(Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP / FILE PHOTO)

“As humanly possible, we would like to, I said, distribute it among the Filipino people across the nation,” the President said during his televised address Monday, March 1. 

The President made the pronouncement after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. reported that the country would receive 161 million doses of vaccines before the end of the year.

Of the forthcoming vaccines, Galvez said 20 million doses, including those coming from World Health Organization’s COVAX facility, are expected to be delivered to the country in the second quarter of the year.

Among the suppliers are Novavax and AstraZeneca. By the third quarter, Galvez said the country could expect the arrival of 68 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. An additional 69 million vaccines doses will be delivered to the country by the fourth quarter of the year.

“All in all po, Mr. President, Mr. Mayor, ay mayroon po tayong 161 million doses kasama na po iyong 44 million na COVAX (All in all, Mr. President, Mr. Mayor, we have 161 million doses including 44 million from COVAX),” Galvez said during a meeting with the President and other government officials on pandemic response.

Galvez, also chief implementer of the government’s program in battling the pandemic, also assured the public that they would implement an “equitable distribution” the vaccines across regions.  

Of the vaccine supply, Galvez said 130,000 doses will be set aside for National Capital Region, epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

Other regions, especially those with reported increase in cases of infections, will also receive vaccine allocation from the government.

The government has launched its vaccination campaign Monday in a bid to boost public protection after the pandemic infected over half a million people and weakened the local economy in recent months.

The first batch of the Sinovac vaccines donated by China arrived in Manila last Sunday.

The government aims to vaccinate 70 million citizens this year to attain herd immunity but recent polls indicated vaccine hesitancy among some people  over safety concerns. 

The President earlier assured the public of the government’s resolve to ensure a timely vaccine rollout to overcome the health crisis and “enables us to confidently reopen our society.” 

“We cannot afford to waste time or resources in the distribution of these vaccines because we are dealing with precious lives,” he said in his remarks after welcoming the vaccine arrival over the weekend.