Duterte slams pharma firms seeking advance payment for COVID-19 vaccine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) - President Rodrigo Duterte hits back at pharmaceutical companies which are asking advance payment for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

"One thing wrong about Western countries is it is all about profit," said Duterte on his recorded address during the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting on Monday.

Duterte added the country's procurement law prohibits the Philippine government to buy products which are not yet on the market or yet to be produced. He is pertaining to Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

"Kung sabihin mo na, sige wala pa 'yung vaccine (If we say that there is still no vaccine yet), there is nothing with finality and you want us to make the reservation by depositing money, you must be crazy," he said.

With this mindset of Western pharmaceutical companies, the President said that he still prefers to buy COVID-19 vaccines made from China and Russia. He also made similar assurances to buy coronavirus vaccines from these countries in his previous national addresses.

"If the vaccine of Russia and China are equally good and effective just like any other vaccine invented by any country, I will buy first," Duterte remarked.

The Department of Health said on Friday the World Health Organization-led solidarity trials on potential coronavirus vaccines in the country may start by the end of October.

The Department of Science and Technology added there are five firms developing a coronavirus vaccine which signed an agreement that will allow the Philippines to access the data of their research, but only four of these are looking to hold clinical trials in the country.

The said pharmaceutical firms are Seqirus from Australia, Sinovac and Sinopharm from China, Gamaleya from Russia, and Adimmune from Taiwan. Sinopharm is not interested in conducting Phase 3 of its medical research in the Philippines to finish this critical stage early, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña added.