Duterte urges ASEAN to speed up COVID-19 vaccine procurement

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 27)— President Rodrigo Duterte urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to expedite the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines to aid the recovery of member countries from the pandemic.

Duterte made the call during his intervention at the 38th ASEAN Summit which was aired by state media on Wednesday.

"While we welcome and appreciate the support of our external partners, we as ASEAN community must be able to stand on our own," Duterte told fellow leaders.

"Hence, I urge the ASEAN Secretariat to expedite vaccine procurement through the COVID-19 Response Fund. If there are still available funds, then we should purchase more," he said.

Duterte also highlighted the proposal for the region's own vaccine research and production facilities, which he said would help in future health emergencies. He likewise called for the immediate establishment of the ASEAN Center on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.

The Philippines has received nearly 100 million coronavirus shots since February. Some were procured by the government and private sector while others were donated by countries — including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan.

Duterte, during the summits, also thanked the powerhouse nations for their assistance during the global health crisis.