Duterte accounts for COVID-19 vaccine shortage in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the responsibility for the COVID-19 vaccine shortage experienced by the country early this year.

"Kung mayroon man nagkasala diyan, aminin ko na lang, kasi wala na rin naman ako magawa. Gusto ko bumili, wala naman ako mabilihan,"said Duterte in his weekly national address.

[Translation: If there is someone who made a mistake, it is I, since I could not do anything. I had wanted to buy (vaccines), but I didn't know where to buy.]

Duterte lamented the country has no vaccine manufacturing firm, which makes it hard to secure COVID-19 vaccine doses for Filipinos.

The President also reasoned out that rich countries hoarded the COVID-19 vaccines, something that he ranted about a few weeks ago in front of fellow world leaders in the 76th United Nations General Assembly. 

"Kung makipag-contest ako doon sa mga mayayaman sa bilihan ng bakuna, talagang huli ako (If I will compete with rich countries who are procuring vaccines, I would really fall behind.)," he said.

Duterte noted the continuing decline of COVID-19 cases in the country, saying a "better" Christmas is in store for the Filipinos. He cites increased vaccine confidence and public compliance with health and safety protocols.

The country formally started its COVID-19 vaccination drive last March 1, over a year since the first COVID-19 case was registered and the last to launch such initiative in the Southeast Asian region. 

As of Oct. 10, over 23.1 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while some 26.4 million persons have received their first dose.