PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, August 10, expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for his willingness to supply the Philippines with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines or cooperate with local manufacturers for mass production.
In a public address, Duterte was pleased to accept Russia’s offer and assured to pay his country’s debt of gratitude.
Duterte said he is “very happy” with the news that Russia would provide vaccines free of charge.
“Maligayang-maligaya ako kasi ang Russia, kaibigan natin ito. Ang ano nila is magbigay sila ng bakuna. Wala naman silang sinasabi bayaran mo. Ito, tingin ko kay President [Vladimir] Putin, tulong niya sa atin, libre,”he said.
He added that the Philippine government will accept it and talk about how much of a supply the country needs.
Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev on Friday said the country has developed an "effective and safe" vaccine created by the Gameleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier conveyed its appreciation for Russia’s willingness to assist the Philippines, as well as its offer to supply the vaccine developed by Gamaleya.
The offer has been referred to relevant agencies for proper assessment and evaluation, DFA said.
Duterte volunteered to be the first person to be injected with the Russian vaccine in public.
“Pagdating ng bakuna, in public, para walang satsat diyan magpa-injection ako. Ako yung maunang maeksperimentuhan. Okay para sa akin,” he said.
He said he wanted to show Putin that he has full trust in Russia’s scientific studies and believes that the vaccine produced is “good for humanity.”
“Para ipakita ko sa kanila na tiwala ako at hindi sila nagkamali mag-offer ako pagdating, yung doctor nila o doctor natin, ako ang unang magpabakuna,” he said.
If the vaccine can be administered to him, Duterte said it could most likely be administered to everyone.
“Tingnan natin kung puwede ba. Kung puwede sa akin, puwede sa lahat. Ngayon, kung hindi puwede sa akin, ‘yan nga yung problema,” he said.
He also asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to coordinate with the Russian government for the possible transfer of the technology for Covid-19 vaccine to the Philippines.
During one of his state visits to Russia, Duterte said Putin told him that if he had any medical-related concerns, he is free to approach the Russian government.
Duterte visited Russia twice — in 2017 and 2019.
“Sabi niya noon nung nagbisita ako sa kanya, sabi niya,‘if you have a question on anything about medicines or cures, feel free to call me and anyone you’d like to be confined and treated here in Russia and we will help you develop the medicines that your country needs’,” he said.
While other nations also offered to provide the Philippines with Covid-19 vaccines, Duterte said there is no certainty if it would be given for free.
He, however, feels Russia would not renege of its promise.
He also vowed to pay his debt of gratitude to Russia and keep their friendly ties.
“Someday we will, makabayad man kami sa utang ng loob sainyo but I promise you that the Philippines and Russia would remain friends forever,” he said.
COVID-free Christmas With a possible Russian vaccine in the works, Duterte expressed hope that the world would be Covid-free by December.
“Maghintay kayo. Actually ang vaccines they are to be distributed worldwide na ‘yan by September, October. Bibitawan na nila dahan-dahan,” he said.
He admitted that there would still be a need for clinical trials to be completed, but the waiting will be much shorter from now on.
“By December, sabi ko (I said) in the fullness of God’s time, we will have a hopefully a Covid-free December and we can enjoy this Christmas season,” he said.
Earlier, Russia said it aims to launch the mass production of COVID-19 vaccines in September and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
Russian scientists said results from clinical trials have been "promising." PNA