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Duterte to seek vaccine discount

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will seek a discount from China and Russia on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines that each of the two countries have developed.

In a public address from Davao City late Monday night, Duterte said the vaccines would not be free, but he was willing to borrow funds to purchase them.

“Remember that this is not for free for after all they did not develop the vaccine without great expense and also the human effort involved. Bibilhin natin ‘yan. (He will purchase them),” Duterte said.

Even if the vaccines were expensive, Duterte said he would find a way to acquire a discount.

“I will ask the — my friend (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin and (Chinese) President Xi Jinping to give us a credit, parang utang (like a loan), a credit line but we will pay not in one payment but by installments. Basta ang sinasabi ko magbayad tayo. Hindi ito libre,” he said.

He was hopeful that the two leaders would understand his plight since the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the global economy into deep contraction.

“As I would always tell them that we are willing and if we are short of money by this time because all of the economy of the world, individual countries, have fallen flat. Lahat ngayon nagkakaroon ng economic hemorrhage. It is uncontrollable because people cannot really work. They cannot be productive. And so you have a problem at hand,” he said.

Last week, Duterte accepted Russia’s offer to supply the Philippines with a vaccine and even volunteered to be the first person to be injected in the country.

The Philippines will begin Phase 3 of the Russia-funded clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine from October 2020 to March 2021

Phase 3 of clinical trials will be done in the Philippines simultaneously with Russia after a vaccine expert panel review on the results of clinical trials for Phase 1 and Phase 2 is conducted in September.

Registration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can take place in April 2021.

In July, Malacañang thanked China for its commitment to prioritize the Philippines’ request for immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin earlier guaranteed that China will prioritize the Philippines, once Beijing becomes successful in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Philippine government is currently in talks with several COVID-19 vaccine developers from the United States, China, and the United Kingdom for the possible purchase, once vaccines become available.

Duterte has repeatedly assured Filipinos that he is ready to utilize all available funds, in the event that a Covid-19 vaccine is developed.