In his late-night televised address after meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), President Rodrigo Duterte said that his goal is for his government to shoulder COVID-19 vaccination for every Filipino.

“I have the money already for the vaccine. But hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera because, you know, there are now 113 million Filipinos, and to me, ideally, all should have the vaccine. Without exception, lahat,” Duterte proclaimed.

The statement contradicts his previous speeches, in which he announced that wealthy Filipinos will not get such assistance from the government because they can “buy their own vaccine.”

As for the fund for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III targets a P20-billion loan from state-owned Land Bank and Development Bank of the Philippines.

The loan will be given to the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) which has been authorized to purchase vaccines for the government. Apart from the loan, there’s a P2.5-billion allocation for vaccines under the proposed 2021 national budget.

Stressing his dire need for an effective COVID-19 vaccine, Duterte said: “Para sa akin, it’s either China or Russia, okay na ako. Wala akong – sinasabi nila Pfizer, Moderna, ‘yung western, US. Okay rin ‘yan kasi may proseso nga eh. Those of you who are asking if the Chinese vaccines are safe? I can say China is a modern country, and it has all the wherewithals to make its country whose integrity is fully protected by its achievement.”

The president previously declared that he has so much confidence in the Russian vaccine that he is willing to be the first to get inoculated with it.

Philippine vaccine experts are still studying documents sent over by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute about the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of its vaccine, Sputnik V. The expert panel will decide whether or not to green-light Phase 3 clinical trials for the vaccine in the country.

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