Manila has said the country’s leader can chose which jab he wants because “he’s the president,” dismissing the guidance of the nation’s vaccine Tsar who urged Filipinos not to wait and get the first shot they’re offered.
“Well you know, I think the President is the President and because he is over 70 years old,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said when questioned as to why strong-man leader Rodrigo Duterte could choose which jab he wants while the rest of the population has to get what they’re given. The eccentric president turns 77 later this month.
Roque has previously said Duterte favors the Sinopharm jab, which hasn’t arrived in the Philippines yet, but said on Thursday he would ask the president if he would like the AstraZeneca vaccine instead, which is due for delivery that same day.
“I will ask if he will consider AstraZeneca because in other countries there are limitations on the use of AstraZeneca,” Roque said, noting that a number of European nations had originally only permitted the jab to be used on those under the age of 65.
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On Monday, the Philippines launched a nationwide vaccination campaign just hours after Duterte welcomed the arrival of 600,000 doses of Sinovac, which had been donated by Beijing.
The jab is recommended only for those aged 18 to 59, while the AstraZeneca jab will be offered to everyone above the age of 18.
Speaking on Monday, Carlito Galvez, who heads up the nation’s vaccine procurement, urged his fellow countrymen to take the first jab they’re offered.
“Let’s not wait for the best vaccine. There’s no such thing,” Galvez told reporters at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. “The best vaccine is the one that’s safe and effective and arrives early.”
Sinopharm, Duterte’s apparent favorite, applied for emergency use authorization in the Southeast Asian country earlier this week, but the Chinese state firm has not released the results of the vaccine’s Stage 3 trials.
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