US Defense chief tells PH: America willing to share COVID-19 vaccine with allies once available

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14)— The United States is willing to share a vaccine and treatment against COVID-19 with its allies, once the developed products are available.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the comment during a conference call with Philippine counterpart Delfin Lorenzana on June 12, the Defense Department revealed in its statement on Sunday.

“Secretary Esper mentioned that developments on vaccines and therapeutics in the US are making very good progress, and expressed their willingness to share them with US allies and partners once available,” the department said of the call, where the two nations tackled developments on bilateral defense relations.

During the conversation, Esper also “expressed appreciation” for the agency’s support in the Philippines’ decision to suspend the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Lorenzana earlier told CNN Philippines that the need for cooperation— especially during the time of health crisis— prompted the government to temporarily halt the move on the two-decade military deal.

For his part, the Philippines’ Defense chief also thanked the US government for the medical assistance and donations amid the pandemic. As of May, the US has provided over $15 million worth of health and humanitarian assistance to aid the Philippines' response against COVID-19, its embassy in Manila said.

Aside from the US, China has also assured the Philippines that it would be prioritized once the East Asian giant develops a vaccine for the mysterious disease.

To date, the Philippines has logged over 25,000 cases of COVID-19.