Govt could still buy vaccines from Western suppliers even after Duterte’s swipe

By Samuel P. Medenilla

The government could still buy Covid-19 vaccines from Western countries even after President Rodrigo Duterte lambasted some of them for being profit-driven. 

“We continue to negotiate with everyone. In fact, the President wants to ensure that we will have the vaccine regardless of who its developer is,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing on Tuesday. 

He also assured that the government will still participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility of Gavi.

Gavi, is a Geneva-based international public-private organization, which aims to facilitate the distribution of vaccines nationwide, particularly in poor countries. 

During his public address on Monday, Duterte criticized how some vaccine developers from Western countries attempted to charge the country a reservation fee to buy their vaccine.

Duterte refused the offer since he said it violated the Procurement Law, which bans the government from buying something, which is still is yet to be produced. 

“It’s a very exacting law and you must always reckon with, you know, prosecution and going to jail,” Duterte said. 

The President did not disclose any specific company, although in his previous public address he disclosed he is optimistic the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by US-based company, Moderna, is expected to be completed by Dec. 

Duterte said the government will now give preference in buying the vaccines being developed in China and Russia “if it will be good as any” in the market. 

“If the vaccine of Russia and China are equally good and effective, just like any other vaccine invented by any [other] country, [then] I will buy first [from them],” Duterte said.

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