THE Philippines is willing to pay for any surplus Covid-19 vaccines from the United States and not rely on dole outs or donations as proposed by a Mindanao lawmaker.
“No, we will pay for it. We’re not a charity case. We have a P4-trillion budget largely unused,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. said on Twitter on Thursday, adding, “Time to throw away our traditional tin cup. Or, if we insist on asking for charity, then switch the yellow sun in the flag with a tin cup.”
Locsin’s remarks were triggered by an appeal from Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who said that the US, the country’s long-time ally, can donate their extra vaccines as the Philippines grapples with its dwindling supply, coming mostly from China.
So far, Beijing has donated 1 million Sinovac vaccines, aside from earlier free shipments of PPEs, face shields and related medical equipment.
The US has procured, according to reports, more Covid-19 vaccines than it needed to protect its population, now with 31.9 million cases and 569,000 deaths.
The Washington Post reported on April 15 that “the US could have 300 million extra vaccine doses by end of July, raising concerns about hoarding.”
This, while many countries in the developing world will have to wait years to vaccinate a majority of their populations, according to a report by the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
Meanwhile, a Philippine Airlines A330 plane arrived from Beijing at 5:10 p.m. on Thursday, airlifting 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine.
PAL said this would bring the carrier’s total delivery to 2.4 million doses of the Chinese vaccines from Beijing.
At the airport to welcome the vaccine’s arrival were Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr.; testing chief Secretary Vivencio Dizon; Undersecretary Robert Eric A. Borje of the Office of the President and Health Undersectary Carolina V. Taiño.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, said the US can donate its excess doses, including those from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, noting that the US has already administered over 200 million doses to its estimated 330 million population.
“Our access to western-made vaccines will lessen our country’s dependence on China’s CoronaVac and give Filipinos vaccination options,” he added.
The lawmaker said that Filipinos currently have no choice “but to take the China-made shots because it is the only one available.”
“Our remaining supply consists of perhaps only a few thousand doses of CoronaVac, while AstraZeneca has run out, forcing many vaccination centers to pause immunization. We badly need additional supply,” he rued. The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity, according to vaccine czar Galvez.