President Rodrigo Duterte’s vaccination against coronavirus isn’t a priority for him right now, the Palace said Tuesday.
The Philippine leader even expressed his willingness to waive his slot for the coveted jabs.
Duterte on Monday night said he will give up his chance to get immunized against the respiratory illness, saying “if anybody wants to have it, (he) can have it”.
“Me, I’ll waive it. If you’re 70 years old and above, what do you get? You can just dream, dream of living ‘til kingdom come,” the President said in a lengthy speech which marked his first public appearance in nearly two weeks.
“If anybody wants to have it, they can have it. We are not the priority anyway. Let’s put first the people who will still live long,” he added.
Duterte’s spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, in a news conference Tuesday, said the Chief Executive’s remark is only a “temporary pronouncement” while vaccine supply is not enough.
“This is just a temporary pronouncement of the President while vaccine supply is not enough. He said he will let our countrymen get ahead of him,” Roque said.
“Maybe once supply comes in and the public needs to get vaccinated immediately, that’s the time President Duterte will get his shot,” Roque added, dismissing speculations that Duterte was already inoculated secretly.
President Duterte previously said he will be vaccinated against the coronavirus in public in a bid to boost public confidence in serums.
The 76-year-old Duterte, who has underlying health issues, belongs to groups vulnerable to developing severe symptoms of respiratory disease.
The Philippines has so far received three million doses of vaccines, which were administered to over a million Filipinos.
These were given through simultaneous vaccination of medical frontline workers, the elderly, and persons with underlying medical conditions, who belong to the A1, A2, and A3 priority sectors of the state’s immunization drive.
The inoculation of economic frontliners and the poor might start next month.
The country is expecting the arrival of additional vaccine shots in the coming months, particularly in the third to the fourth quarter of the year, as manufacturers boost their production amid high global demand.
At least 20,000 doses of Russia’s anti-coronavirus vaccine “Sputnik V” are expected to be shipped this week, along with 194,000 doses from American firm Moderna next month.
The government so far signed contracts with China’s Sinovac to secure 25 million doses, Britain’s AstraZeneca for 17 million doses, Moderna for 20 million doses, and U.S-based Novavax for 30 million doses, said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
The Philippines is currently negotiating for 20 to 40 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from American firm Pfizer-BioNTech, six million doses from Johnson & Johnson, and 20 million doses from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute.
Galvez acknowledged Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babes” Romualdez’s help in pushing for the negotiations with Pfizer-BioTech.
He also said the US offered to give their excess Covid-19 vaccines to their allies like the Philippines.
“We are seeing that by 4 July when the US is done with (its) inoculation … (it) said that (it) would spare some of (its) excess doses to (its) allied countries,” Galvez said in an interview with ANC.
The Philippines is one of the countries that will receive Pfizer-BioTech Covid-19 shots from the global vaccine-sharing pool COVAX facility in the second quarter of the year.