MANILA – The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutical companies are “as good as” those produced in the United States and Europe, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday night.
In a taped speech, Duterte allayed fears over China-made vaccines insisting that their government would not allow their people to be inoculated with the vaccine if they were not “safe, sure, and secure.”
“The bakuna (vaccine) that [vaccine czar] Secretary [Carlito] Galvez is buying is as good as any other bakuna na naimbento ng mga Amerikano o yung mga Europeans. Hindi nagkulang ang Chinese. Hindi sila nagkulang sa utak. Bright itong mga Instik (vaccine invented by Americans and Europeans. They don’t lack intellect. They’re bright) and they would not venture kung hindi sapat (if it is not enough), it is not safe, sure, and secure,” he said.
He expressed full trust in Galvez’s decision to procure the China-made vaccines, saying he would not compromise the health and safety of Filipinos.
“Hindi ako magbili ng bakuna na hindi tama. Itong Sinopharm pati Sinovac nabakunahan na nila lahat halos…Kung ayaw ninyo, okay walang. Walang problema (I won’t buy a vaccine that’s not safe. Sinopharm and Sinovac have vaccinated almost all their people…If you don’t like the vaccine, it’s fine. No problem),” he said.
Duterte said he would be the one to blame if the vaccines purchased by government were not safe.
“Kung may bulilyaso at the end of the day akin talaga yung responsibilidad (If it turns out to be a mistake at the end of the day, it will be my responsibility),” he said.
Malacañang earlier said the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac will be the only choice for the government’s free immunization program until the middle of 2021.
Shots not mandatory
Following criticism over the government’s preference for China-made vaccines, Duterte assured that nobody would be forced into receiving vaccine shots.
He said those who refused to be vaccinated would mean more doses for those who actually want to receive them.
“Kung merong mga tao na ayaw, e di mas mabuti. Mauna natin yung gusto (If people don’t want to get it, that’s better. We can prioritize those who want it) and we can tone down the orders kung sobra sobra na (if there’s too much),” he said.
Healthcare workers, uniformed personnel and other frontline workers will be among those prioritized in the government’s vaccination drive.
LGUs free to choose
Duterte also told local government units (LGUs) that have allocated funds to secure Covid-19 vaccines for their constituents, that they are free to choose any vaccine brand.
“To the mayors and the governors, you can choose any vaccine you like to buy. Wala kaming pakialam kung ano ang pipiliin ninyo. Hindi kami makialam sa lahat ng bagay (We don’t care what you choose. We won’t interfere in all your activities),” he said.
However, he reminded LGU officials that the vaccines they will purchase will have to receive approval from the national government before given to their constituents.
He said he would not force any LGU to join the national government’s vaccination campaign.
“We are not forcing anybody to join the cause of the national government. Hindi namin pinipilit na sumali kayo sa ibibigay na bakuna ng national government (We are not forcing you to join the national government’s vaccination drive),” he added. (PNA)