MALACAÑANG on Thursday said it “appreciates” the assurance made by the European Union (EU) that its export controls on COVID-19 vaccines will not hamper the Philippines’ access to them.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte, in a recent speech, accused the EU of holding British-Swedish drugmaker’s AstraZeneca vaccines.
“Kinakailangan naman talaga ng paglilinaw, kasi ang lumalabas, nagkakaroon nga po ng vaccine nationalism ‘no at ‘yun po ang issue na nilabas ng ating Presidente,” Roque said.
He said the EU clarification was necessary because poorer nations lacked the power to secure vaccines.
“Ngayong nagkaroon ng ganyang paglilinaw, we appreciate it. Pero kung hindi nagsalita ang Presidente, hindi sila magbibigay ng linaw na ganyan,” he added.
In a taped address on Monday night, Duterte said the powerful regional bloc was holding AstraZeneca’s vaccines by adopting new measures to restrict the export of vaccines manufactured in the region.
“For all of their brouhaha, ‘o meron kami dito.’ Saan? Eh ‘yung AstraZeneca, hinostage ng European Union,” Duterte said.
He said it seemed so easy for the EU to restrict the movement of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Ganoon kadali. Ang atin dito Asean (It’s that easy for them. We’re part of Asean) but we are not really as powerful as the EU. Eh wala tayong connection, wala tayong mga — wala tayong pera. May pera tayo pero naka-ready lang, standby,” he said.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier clarified that the Philippines would not have a problem in securing supplies of AstraZeneca vaccines, since their doses would be manufactured in either Thailand or India.
AstraZeneca is one of the seven vaccine manufacturers the Philippines is in talks with for vaccine supply deals.
Since the Philippines will be acquiring AstraZeneca vaccines through the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GAVI COVAX Facility, orders will not be affected.
In a statement on Tuesday, the EU announced that the Philippines is among the 92 low and middle-income countries which are exempted from the ban on the exportation of COVID-19 vaccines.
“The authorization mechanism for exports of COVID-19 vaccines include a wide range of exemptions from prior authorization, to ensure the EU continues to fully honor its commitments to deliver the vaccine to our direct neighbourhood and to 92 low and middle-income countries, including the Philippines, covered by the COVAX Facility,” the EU said.
The EU said the Philippines would receive COVID-19 vaccines for 20 percent of its population through COVAX, with the first shipment expected by the end of February.
Meanwhile, Roque welcomed reports that the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute is 91.6 percent effective versus COVID-19 based on peer-reviewed late-stage trials.
“We welcome this dahil alam naman natin na dahil kulang nga po ang supply galing sa Western companies, talagang kinakailangan ibsan natin ang supply sa pag-aangat galing sa Russia at bansang Tsina,” he said.
He also recalled how Duterte himself has expressed personal preference to be inoculated with vaccines from either Russia or China.
“Simula’t-mula po, tayo po ay umu-order dun sa Gamaleya, pero magandang balita po ‘yan na 91 percent ang efficacy rate niya,” he said.
However, he said the President is willing to receive any vaccine brand as long as issued with an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines.
“Basta naman aprubado ‘yan ng ating FDA at binigyan ng EUA, kukunin po ‘yan ng Presidente,” he added. “Uulitin ko po no, ang importante talaga sa bakuna hindi lang yung kung mape-prevent niya ang pagkakasakit, ang importante kung mape-prevent niya ang seryosong pagkaksakit na magdudulot ng kamatayan,” he said. Philippine News Agency