‘It’s my fault’


President Duterte has owned up to the shortage of coronavirus vaccines that had plagued the country during the early part of the year, which caused the Philippines to plummet to dead last globally in terms of its Covid19 response.

“Kung mayroon man nagkasala diyan, aminin ko na lang, kasi wala na rin ako magawa. Gusto ko bumili, wala naman ako mabilhan,” the president was quoted in reports as saying during a public address from Malacanang.

The problem was amplified, he said, because the Philippines had no vaccine manufacturing facility which made the job of securing life-saving drugs doubly-hard due to stiff competition from rich nations that were also scrambling for stocks.

During his address before the UN General Assembly last September, Duterte chided wealthy nations for hoarding Covid vaccines and urged them to be more generous and share their largesse with poorer ones.

But it should be recalled that last December, Senator Panfilo Lacson in a privilege speech lashed out at Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for “dropping the ball” in the purchase of millions of Pfizer vaccine doses as early as the first quarter of 2020.

Lacson disclosed that Duque had been offered by Pfizer representatives the opportunity to secure the vaccines long before there was a mad scramble.
But somehow, Lacson said, the Duterte government muffed up the negotiations when it failed to submit a confidentiality agreement being sought by Pfizer, which would have allowed the deal to push through.

Recently, the Philippines emerged at the bottom of Bloomberg’s list of 53 big economies surveyed for Covid19 resiliency.

In Nikkei Asia’s Global Covid Recovery Index, the country again was ranked at the bottom of 121 countries polled, principally due to its super-slow vaccine roll-out.

The Philippines was also adjudged the laggard among all ASEAN community members.

In March 1, the country’s vaccination program was rolled out with Sinovac vaccines donated by the government of China, which are not recognized in virtually all developed nations due to its low 51-percent efficacy rate.

Unlike the Philippines where it is the preferred vaccine of the Duterte government, ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have already started phasing out Sinovac vaccines among their respective populations.

Photo: Philippine Star

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