Duterte: Equitable vaccine access is our shared responsibility

Published May 21, 2021, 8:03 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has appealed anew for equitable global access to coronavirus vaccines, saying no country can regain growth until everyone can overcome the pandemic.

President Rodrigo Duterte shows a vial of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine during the arrival of the first shipment of the vaccines from COVAX facility in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on March 4, 2021. (Malacañang photo)

The President, who earlier lamented that rich nations cornered most of the limited global vaccine supply, reminded the international community about the “shared responsibility” to ensure equitable access to safe and effective vaccines.

Duterte issued the appeal when he spoke before the virtual 26th International Conference on the Future of Asia organized by Nikkei Inc. in Japan. This year’s forum had the theme “Shaping the post-COVID era: Asia’s role in the global recovery.”

“We consistently champion universal, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. No one is safe until everyone is safe according to the UN (United Nations). No country can hope to regain growth until all are able to defeat this virus,” Duterte said.

“Equitable access to vaccines is our shared responsibility. We take this commitment seriously and we expect the same from our partners,” he added.

The President voiced the country’s support for all avenues for increased production of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

He noted that the Philippines was one of that few that did not impose export controls on critical products at the height of the pandemic.The export of medical grade masks produced by Japanese companies in the country was not restricted, he said. “This preserved jobs while helping save lives in other countries,” Duterte said.

The President also recognized the need for greater solidarity in a coordinated and comprehensive response to the pandemic, which has devastated lives and livelihoods across the globe.

“Outside of war, never has one crisis transformed our countries so quickly and deeply. The virus spread with such extraordinary speed and ferocity. It left us reeling. No country – rich or poor – was spared,” he said.

Duterte likewise thanked Japan and other partners in the COVAX facility for the distributing vaccines to many developing countries including the Philippines.

The country has so far received over 8 million coronavirus vaccines, including more than 2 million doses coming from the global vaccine-sharing scheme. Of the vaccine supply secured by Manila, more than 3.2 million doses have been administered to the public, initially health workers, seniors, and those with comorbidity.