President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday scored rich nations for hoarding Covid vaccines, saying they have created a “man-made drought” for “life-saving” jabs that is ravaging poor countries.
In a keynote speech delivered during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Duterte expressed dismay that developing nations could not boost their Covid-19 vaccine supply because wealthy countries have the privilege to secure first the vaccine shots.
“The picture is bleak. It is a man-made drought of vaccines ravaging the poor countries. Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles,” Duterte said.
Duterte lamented that while rich nations have already advanced their vaccination drive by getting more supply for booster shots, poor countries are still struggling to have additional jabs to fully vaccinate their citizens.
Such “selfish” act, Duterte said, must not be tolerated.
“They (Rich countries) now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half doses just to get by. This is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is — a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally or morally,” he said.
Duterte expressed hope that powerful states would instead support the Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, a global initiative that guarantees access to Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, to defeat the coronavirus.
He said greater global cooperation would be the key to the successful fight against Covid-19.
“The plain fact is this pandemic will not end, unless the virus is defeated everywhere. Vaccines are key to achieving this,” Duterte said. “We recognize that only inclusive multilateralism can deliver the global public goods we need. And we believe that fairness, equality and respect should always be the basis of our engagement with one another.”
The COVAX Facility has benefitted many developing countries, including the Philippines.
The Philippines, in turn, has already committed USD1 million to the COVAX Facility, Duterte said.
“This is our modest contribution to our collective fight against Covid-19. We strongly urge our privileged partners to fully support the COVAX Facility and further strengthen other cooperation mechanisms. We need this to save more lives, break the cycle of variants, and help ensure global economic recovery,” he said.The Philippines has so far received a total of 64.942 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, based on the data released by the National Task Force Against Covid-19 on Monday.