Duterte mulls US trip to thank Biden, Americans for COVID-19 vaccine donations — Galvez

Published October 2, 2021, 5:47 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

President Duterte is “interested” to travel to the United States to personally express his gratitude to US President Joe Biden and the American people for their donations of Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to the Philippines, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Saturday afternoon, October 2.

Galvez, vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, made the pronouncement as he welcomed the delivery of 889,200 doses of Pfizer which were donated by the US government to the country via the COVAX facility.

A total of 889,200 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive at NAIA Terminal 3 on Oct. 2, 2021. The vaccines were donated by the US government to the Philippines through the COVAX facility. (Photo: NTF Against COVID-19)

The vaccines arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA )Terminal 3 around 4:15 p.m. via Emirates Airlines flight EK 332.

“The President is very, very happy and in our Talk to the People [public address] last Thursday, he [was] even interested to go to the US just to thank President Biden and the American people. We are very thankful that the US has given us this opportunity to receive and have access with Pfizer,” Galvez told reporters at the airport.

This was a stark contrast to Duterte’s previous statements where he expressed strong disapproval on the idea of visiting America as long as he is the President even if he had been invited in the past by former US presidents.

“I have not been to America, almost 10 years, 22 years, I have not visited America and I do not have anyintention of visiting anymore,” he said during his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26.

But the Chief Executive apparently have a change of heart as he was touched by US’ generosity and willingness to help the Philippines in its fight against the pandemic, according to Galvez.

US Charge d’Affaires Heather Variava makes a fist bump with vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. during the arrival of 889,200 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at NAIA Terminal 3 on Oct. 2, 2021. (Photo: NTF Against COVID-19)

US Charge d’Affaires Heather Variava said the latest delivery of Pfizer donations were part of the total 5.5 million doses that were scheduled to arrive in Manila this week. On Sunday, another 1.8 million doses of US-donated Pfizer jabs via the COVAX facility will be transported to the country.

She said the US government has already donated around 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines through direct vaccine sharing and the COVAX facility. Manila has also received P1.9 billion worth of COVID-19 supplies from Washington.

“The United States is very happy to be able to provide safe and effective vaccines not just to Manila but to the greater Philippines, to Central and Southern part of the Philippines as well. We’re really happy,” she said.

Aside from the US government, Galvez also thanked the COVAX facility, Gavi vaccine alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) for providing vaccines as he projected that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a “long” fight.

“We are expecting that this is a long COVID. For as long as we are not able to have the cure [to] COVID, we are expecting that we will have another wave of cases but this delivery is very timely,” the vaccine czar shared.

A total of 889,200 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive at NAIA Terminal 3 on Oct. 2, 2021. The vaccines were donated by the US government to the Philippines through the COVAX facility. (Photo: NTF Against COVID-19)

In total, the country has already received 75,597,140 doses, of which, 58.6 million were already deployed to the local government units (LGUs).

A total of 45.95 million doses were administered nationwide as of Saturday. There were 24.39 million Filipinos who have received their first dose while 21.56 million individuals have been fully vaccinated.

 
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