Galvez deplores vaccine hoarding; says it hurts everyone, impairs global pandemic response

The Philippines has raised concern over the "hoarding" of the world's limited supply of coronavirus vaccines and called anew for the fair and timely access to the preventive drug.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19,
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Addressing an online meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC), vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the vaccine hoarding was harming people as well as the world’s response to the pandemic.

"We join the UN Secretary-General in lamenting the unfortunate state of global COVID-19 vaccination, and fully align with the course of action of ASEAN, the Non­ Aligned Movement, the G77 and other like-minded Member States," Galvez said during the ministerial assembly on "A Vaccine for All” Friday.

"Hoarding the limited vaccines does not serve anyone's interests and only hurts everyone and the global response. Similar transgressions run contrary to solidarities reached multilaterally that emphasized the importance of collective action," said Galvez, also chief implementer of the government's policy against the coronavirus,” he said.

Galvez has called for closer international cooperation in addressing the pandemic, particularly ensuring the equitable distribution of vaccines.  He recognized the world faced a "daunting task to ensure vaccines for all" amid the latest round of national lockdowns a year after the pandemic erupted.

"The Philippines remains resolute in championing a policy of ensuring universal, fair, equitable, and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines as long-term solutions to building back better, amid the emergence of new variants and the global scarcity that has been challenging vaccine rollouts in some countries," he said.

"It has been clearer, as it has always been, that #OnlyTogether can we end this pandemic especially now that we have begun to have the scientific capacity to do so," he added.

He also said the international community must "reinforce our greater global solidarities and uphold our collective commitment and to further intensify its cooperation to address COVID-19's multidimensional challenges."

"Indeed, no one is safe unless everyone is safe. But ultimately, if we are to win this battle and prevent the virus from mutating in the most desolate and harshest of conditions, we must faithfully fulfill our collective duties and act on our common humanity to end this brutal war that has already taken so much from us," he added.

UN Secretary General António Guterres earlier expressed dismay with the “uneven and unfair” distribution of coronavirus vaccines, saying 10 countries administered 75 percent of all vaccinations. The UN has already launched “Only Together,” a global campaign to advance fair and quotable access to coronavirus vaccines worldwide.

Galvez said the Philippines remained committed to the global consensus to ensure coronavirus vaccines and treatments are "global public goods that must be made accessible and affordable for all."

"The Philippines fully supports and commits to this, as much as it fully aligns with the UN Secretary-General's call for a Global Vaccination Plan so that vaccines reach every developing and least developed country without any further delay," he said.

He noted that the Philippines has already pledged $100,000 each to the World Health Organization's COVAX facility as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) COVID-19 Response "despite the travails of its own national response."

President Duterte earlier admitted that the country was facing a shortage of vaccine supply due to the world’s scarce stocks. He was concerned that rich nations have cornered most of the vaccine supplies while poor nations like the Philippines are left to scramble for remaining stocks.

The government has started its free inoculation drive after receiving over 3 million doses of vaccines, including those procured and donated shots. More batches of vaccines supplies are expected to arrive in the coming months, according to Galvez.