PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte does not seem to like what’s been going on lately in the manner of which the European Union has been treating poor countries.
According to Duterte, the European Union is holding up supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly AstraZeneca, to other countries even as he claimed that poor countries are deprived of the supplies needed to address local health emergencies.
“This is a fight among the highest bidders, who can pay first. We are not rich,” Duterte was quoted as saying in a televised message.
Malacañang chief executive assured the public his government has the funds to procure vaccines.
The Philippines has so far recorded 527,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10,807 deaths. The figure is deemed among the highest in the Asian region.
The President likewise said that the issue was getting the supplies as big powers like the EU not only buy up doses in bulk but have threatened to restrict exports of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly AstraZeneca.
“AstraZeneca was held hostage by the European Union,” Duterte said.
The British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca said last week it would fall short of delivering promised vaccines to the EU, triggering a furious response from the bloc.
The EU is now looking into a scheme to monitor and authorize export of vaccines, potentially blocking them if its own supply is not met.
“Here we have the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), but we are not really as powerful as the EU. We don’t have connections,” Duterte said.
AstraZeneca is one of the seven vaccine manufacturers the Philippines is in talks with for supply deals, which are on top of the millions of doses it expects to receive via the COVAX facility.