PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to the public for patience and understanding amid criticism over the government’s slow vaccination rollout, saying his administration is really doing its best to get the shots against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Duterte made the statement as the country logged a record-high 10,016 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 731,894.
In his weekly public address aired over state-run PTV-4 on Monday night, Duterte said the public has to understand that procuring Covid-19 vaccines was not easy amid limited global supply.
“We are really doing our very best – the best of the best of our talent – in getting the vaccine anywhere para menos-menos ang hawaan (so we can bring down the infections),” Duterte said.
“We have to understand the government. Allow a certain… medyo (somehow) stretch your patience and understanding. We’re not a vaccine-producing country. Wala tayong (We don’t have the) expertise – medical, scientific knowledge – so naghihintay tayo (that’s why we are waiting),” he added.
The President admitted that being unable to immediately procure Covid-19 vaccines felt like being in purgatory.
“I am having a hard time. I’m grappling with the issue of Covid… It’s the Covid that is taking most of my time looking for ways and kung ano ang nangyayari doon sa labas kung saan tayo makakuha (with what’s happening outside the country and where else can we get vaccines),” Duterte said.
“Gusto ko na nga umiyak sa harap ninyo pero naubos na luha ko. Kung alam lang ninyo, para akong dumadaan ng purgatoryo ngayon hanggang ‘di natutulungan lahat ng Filipino (I just want to cry in front of your but I’m out of tears already. If only you knew. I feel like I’m in purgatory because I’m unable to help all Filipinos),” he added.
On Monday afternoon, Duterte welcomed the arrival of 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine purchased by the government for P700 million from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech.
In total, the government intends to buy 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines.
On March 1, the country launched the vaccination program with health workers as the top priority. So far, 656,331 individuals have been vaccinated.
Under the vaccination roadmap, the government will facilitate the vaccination of individuals under the A1 to A3 priority groups.
A1 category includes front-liners from private and public health institutions; health professionals; non-professionals such as students, nursing aides, janitors; village health workers; and national and local government front-liners.
The A2 category covers senior citizens while falling under A3 are individuals with comorbidities.
The private sector will facilitate the inoculation of Filipinos under the A4 priority group, such as uniformed personnel and other essential frontliners.
The Philippines aims to inoculate 70 percent of the total population, or about 70 million Filipinos, before the end of the year.
This will supposedly trigger “herd immunity,” a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease.