The Philippines can buy vaccines against the coronavirus once they become available, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Wednesday night, noting that he had found the funds for these.
“I have the money already for the vaccine,” he told an online news briefing after meeting with some Cabinet members. He did not elaborate.
He said he would look for more funds so all Filipinos could be vaccinated. The President said he was okay with vaccines developed either by Russia or China.
Mr. Duterte said he had spoken with outgoing Russian Ambassador Igor A. Khovaev and was told that Russia intends to set up a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines that will make the vaccines available here.
He said soldiers and the police will be among the first ones to be vaccinated, along with poor Filipinos.
The Department of Health (DoH) last week said an inter-agency task force led by the Department of Science and Technology was preparing for COVID-19 vaccine phase clinical trials in November.
Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. have applied for phase 3 clinical trials in the country.
DoH reported 1,910 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 346,536. The death toll climbed by 78 to 6,499, while recoveries increased by 579 to 293,860. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas