Duterte calls for development of Filipino-made vaccines vs COVID

Published July 7, 2021, 7:19 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has encouraged local scientists to work double time and develop coronavirus vaccines that are “truly Filipino.”

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on July 6, 2021. (Malacañang)

The President made a pitch for locally produced vaccines in a bid to ease the country’s dependence on supplies produced abroad. The country’s vaccine stocks against the coronavirus have all been secured from foreign suppliers.

“Hindi ko naman minamata ‘yang mga scientists natin (I’m not looking down on our scientists) maybe for lack of so many things, equipment and all. But I am also praying, at the same time, that they can come up a really good result of their studies and make some vaccines that are really truly Filipino,” Duterte said during a taped meeting with officials of the administration party aired Wednesday July 7.

Duterte recognized the health risks posed by the new coronavirus variants, believed to be more contagious than the original strain, citing the need for safe and effective vaccines to protect the people.

He urged scientists to come up with medication to help protect Filipinos from the virus, assuring them of government’s financial support. He admitted that the country could not always rely on others for assistance.

“I would like to tell you there are so many variants now coming out. ‘Pag lahat ‘yan kailangan ng bakuna, ah patay na (When everyone needs a vaccine, it’s over). Our scientists must work double the time to — mag-isip talaga kayo (to really think) If you have to pour your, you know, matutunaw ‘yang utak ninyo (your brains will melt) you must come up with something to help the Filipino,” he said.

“We cannot be dependent, ill afford, to just sabihin doon sa mga ibang tao na bigyan mo kami, bigyan mo dito. That cannot go on. We must develop — tutal may pera man tayo (to just ask for supply from others. That cannot go on. We must develop our own. Besides, we have the funds),” he said.

The country has so far received more than 17 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, mostly Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sputnik V, and Moderna jabs. More than 2.9 million people have received the two-dose vaccination since the inoculation campaign started last March.

The government originally targeted to inoculate up to 70 million adult Filipinos to attain herd immunity before the end of 2021. But due to the limited supply, it lowered its vaccination goal and now aims to reach “population protection,” or around 50 percent of the population in Metro Manila and other high-risk areas, before yearend.