Duterte thanks United States for donating COVID-19 vaccines to PH

As the government moves to curb the rising cases of coronavirus, President Duterte is grateful for the coronavirus vaccines donated by the United States to the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte tackles the status and direction of the US-Philippine relations with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III during his courtesy call in Malacañang on July 29, 2021. (Malacañang)

The President offered his gratitude for the US aid to the country's pandemic response during a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III in Malacañang Thursday, July 29.

Austin is in Manila for a two-day visit seeking to revitalize America's alliance with the Philippines. He and Duterte also discussed enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fight against illegal drugs and other transnational crimes, maritime domain awareness, as well as trade and investments.

"The President expressed appreciation for the U.S. assistance in the country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the Philippines is among the beneficiaries of the COVAX facility where the U.S. is the largest contributor," the Palace said in a statement.

"The Philippines recently received more than 3 million vaccine doses under this facility," it said.

The United States recently delivered around 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the Philippines under the COVAX facility, a global vaccine-sharing scheme.

US Embassy in Manila Chargé d’Affaires John Law earlier said the US vaccine donation to the Philippines demonstrated "our close and abiding relationship, and how important this partnership is to us." "This one-shot, easy-to-store vaccine will protect millions of lives across the country,” he said.

The United States has provided support for the Philippines' efforts to protect public health and support the local pandemic response. The pandemic aid given by the US to the Philippines has so far amounted to P1.38 billion ($27.5 million) based on the information from the US Embassy in Manila.

Prior to the the J&J vaccine deliveries, the Philippines has been given more than 7 million jabs from the COVAX facility. The initial US contribution to the global vaccine initiative reached $2 billion.

The Philippines has so far received more than 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, that included those procured by the national government as well as donated by other nations.

In a race to vaccinate 50 to 70 million to reach herd immunity by end-2021 or early 2022, the government has so far inoculated more than 7 million people in the country.

The country's vaccination efforts have hampered by the world's tight vaccine supply. Duterte has repeatedly appealed for equitable vaccine distribution, saying it would be gross injustice if a country is excluded due to poverty or strategic unimportance. He previously expressed concern that rich nations have cornered the bulk of the vaccine supply leaving poor nations to scramble for the remaining stocks.