Duterte hits wealthy nations for ‘hoarding’ COVID-19 vaccines


MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte slammed wealthy nations “hoarding” COVID-19 vaccines and said it is selfish to even talk about booster shots when poor nations are barely getting by.

“The picture is bleak. It is a man-made drought of vaccines ravaging the poor countries. Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines while poor nations wait for trickles,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded speech for the 76th United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

“They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by. This is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is – a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally nor morally,” he added.

Further, Duterte stressed the need for fairness, equality and respect in “our engagement with one another.”

“Only with this can we correct the injustices that doom the downtrodden all over the world to a life of indignity and for the thousands during this pandemic—certain death,” he added.

So far, over 18.5 million persons have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Philippines.

This means 26.6 percent of the eligible population, or Filipinos 18 years old and above, have been fully vaccinated. The government’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of its target population by the end of 2021.

Duterte urged privileged countries to fully support the COVAX facility, as he cited the Philippines’ US$1-million dollar contribution to the global vaccine platform.

“The plain fact is—this pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated everywhere. Vaccines are key to achieving this,” he said.

“We strongly urge our privileged partners to fully support the COVAX facility and further strengthen other cooperation mechanisms. We need this to save more lives, break the cycle of variants and help ensure global economic recovery,” the President added.

The COVAX facility, co-led by the Gavi vaccine alliance, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is a global platform aiming to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially for low and middle-income countries.

As of Sept. 20, the Philippines has received 64.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to data from the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

A portion of these doses were from the COVAX facility.


By: Christia Marie Ramos/INQUIRER.net