Duterte: “We’ll have to go through the worst of times”
(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte warned the public that things could get worse before it gets better, saying there would be more COVID-19 deaths as vaccine supplies are not enough and the COVID-19 variants that have mutated still continue to infect thousands.
“Sabihin ko sa iyo marami pang mamamatay dito. Hindi ko lang maturo kung sino,” President Duterte said in his Talk To The Nation on Thursday, April 15.
He observed that all over the world, vaccine supplies are not enough, which is why he is pushing for the country to develop its own vaccines.
“Nandiyan ang bakuna, hindi sa ating kamay. Sa kamay ng ibang tao. And this will go I think before it gets better, we’ll have to go through the worst of times,” he said.
So far, six companies have already expressed interest in developing and manufacturing vaccines against COVID-19, some in partnership with foreign companies including a South Korean firm.
-DTI reports talking to vaccine manufacturers that can set PHL vaccine production-
On Thursday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez reported to the President that they had already talked to these vaccine manufacturers, together with the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“Mayroon po kayong kautusan tungkol po sa mga ma-encourage ‘yong mga vaccine manufacturers sana magkaroon tayo ng capability just like many years ago na mayroon tayong vaccine capability to manufacture in the country,” Lopez reported.
“So sa DTI po inumpisahan ho natin together with DOST at kasama ng ating ibang mga ahensiya, FDA, DOH, ang pakikipag-usap sa mga companies who can possibly start a commercializing and manufacturing of vaccines in the country para hindi tayo totally dependent sa pag-import ng vaccine,” he said.
Lopez said that the limitation is the fact that the Philippines is still dependent on the research and development at the headquarters of the vaccine manufacturers.
“Of course ngayon ho talagang nagde-depend tayo dahil wala tayong local manufacturing capabilities at lahat po nung mga R&D they are all taking place doon sa mga headquarters nitong mga manufacturers,” he said.
-Support for local vaccine production –
He also stressed the need for support for local vaccines to be produced.
The so-called green lanes on the processing and getting government permits are also needed so that vaccine manufacturing plants can be built in the country, he said.
“Siyempre dito po kausapin natin and DOH at FDA pagdating ho sa magkaroon lamang nang mabilis na processing. Greenlane on getting government permits. They will subscribe to all requirements and submit all the documents. Kailangan lang ma-prioritize para ho mapabilis ang proseso ng pagput up ng planta dito,” he said.
It is also important the the Philippines should be assured it could procure locally-produced vaccines if vaccine manufacturing plants of foreign pharmaceutical firms set up shop in the country. It would be self-defeating if the Philippines would not be assured to be given the vaccines even if the manufacturing plant of these foreign vaccine companies are already here.
“Second, of course, lahat po nang pumapasok dito may risk involved din lalo na kung papasok sila tapos ang gobyerno ay bibili rin abroad. So dito po ay ine-encourage po sana na may government procurement of locally produced vaccines, subject to standards, specs and prices. So it’s likened to a war na pagka-giyera tulad noong mga giyera noong araw na ang gobyerno will really mandate a manufacturer to manufacture the needed ammo and bullets pero kasabay noon bibilin nila ‘yon kasi hindi sila aasa sa import dahil nga hindi magiging reliable,” Lopez explained.
“Iyong pinagawa nila locally, kailangan i-commit din nung government na bibilin natin ‘yan para talagang maging self-reliant and self-sufficient tayo.”
“So ‘yon po ‘yong isang kahilingan dito na it will help really facilitate ‘yong paglocate noong mga vaccine facility dito sa ating bayan. Of course, subject to of course the meeting the high specs of standards as well as competitive prices,” he said.
-Duterte: US can’t let of their vaccine supplies yet-
Duterte had been pressing on the Philippines producing its own vaccines, saying that only these life-saving vaccines could save Filipinos from the pandemic.
The virus cannot be seen. It’s like an invisible opponent in a war that kills.
He noted America, which produces vaccines, cannot really let go of their vaccine supplies as of yet.
“Ang Pilipinas kagaya ng mga Brazil and others pare-pareho ang problema. And in America, surprise of a — the surprises of our times, hindi natin matantiya kung ano talaga because until now the industrialized countries, those who have, are not ready really to let go of their stocks of vaccine,” he said.
-Current vaccine supplies still not enough-
The Philippines only has vaccines given or bought from China (Sinovac) and those brought by the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility. The Sinovac doses in the country that had been so far delivered are 2.5 million, while the AstraZeneca doses brought by the COVAX Faciliity remain at 525,600.
Duterte noted current vaccine supplies are not even enough to vaccinate the 1.7 million health care workers, as vaccines need two doses of administration. This means, the country needs at least 3.4 million doses. Currently, the Philippines is trying to get more vaccine doses to meet its target of vaccinating at least 70 percent of the population this year. This means 148 million doses at least.
“Now, when will we have that stocks sufficient to vaccinate the people? I really do not know. Nobody knows,” he said.
-COVID reinfection possible even with vaccines-
He noted many countries in the world are now experiencing the third wave of the pandemic, and even if the vaccine is already here, this doesn’t assure that there would be no reinfection. There are also variants that are still under study, and vaccines currently developed are not guaranteed to protect people against these variants.
Duterte said that this is the hard fact, which Filipinos should realize. Things could get worse, before it gets better.
“Nanonood ako ng CNN nandito ako sa ano eh BBC, eh kung may reinfection, eh ‘di patay na. If there’s a reinfection, there is no guarantee that anybody would ever be safe with or without the vaccines. So iyan ang gusto kong ipaabot sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.
Reacting to his critics that the government had been lacking in its COVID-19 response, he said that this wasn’t true, as the Philippines was the first to impose a lockdown even ahead of other countries at the start of the pandemic, heeding the experts’ advice.
-Gov’t doing its best, says Duterte-
“Government is working. Government is busy doing everything, not nothing. Government is trying to get the things to fix all of us. Iyong mga bagay ngayon nandiyan pero wala sa ating mga kamay.”
“Itong vaccine na itong pinag-usapan natin ganito, wala sana ito kung mayroong vaccine available. Eh wala. Hanggang ngayon the word “unavailable” is nandiyan. Unavailable because there are not — there’s no sufficient supply to inoculate the world. Matagal pa ito,” he said.
Duterte said that the problem is not really facilities or medicines or beds, as he could easily order the taking over the operations of hotels to solve the problem of lack of COVID-19 beds.
“You know what? I can order the authorities to take over the operations of hotels kung wala na talagang mga kama. Madali iyan. Hindi talaga problema ‘yan,” he said.
“Kapag sinabi na we are at a critical condition, there is no space for the doctors and the nurses to move and stay healthy, then we begin to exercise the police power of the state to… Sabihin ko sa hotel, ‘adre, pasensya ka na. Kailangan ko ‘yong hotel mo. Hiramin ko lang.’ And after that I will clean it up, spick and span, and I will decontaminate everything there like to its former glory. Iyan ang ano diyan,” he said.
“And even the medicines, I can go to wherever warehouse there and then… But that is not really a what you would call a remedy desired in a democratic state.”
“So kayong mga kababayan ko, huwag kayong matakot diyan sa ano. Hindi naman tayo talagang walang-wala eh. We are not really at a total loss of what to do. We know what to do,” he assured.
Duterte said that the problem is that there are so many people claiming to know what should be done, but there is not enough time to hear all of them.
“Ang marami lang dito is maraming maingay because maraming magpa — well, hindi magpamarunong, maraming marunong. And maybe everybody wants to be heard. Problem is, there is no time to hear everyone. We do not have that luxury of time,” he said.
Duterte tried to encapsulate what the country and the world is facing at the start of his second public address for the week on April 15.
-Pandemic in every generation-
“You know we are facing an enemy that cannot be seen. We are facing an opponent where there is no sight at end. We are facing a turmoil not only in the Philippines but in the entire world,” he said.
And he noted that pandemics such as this COVID-19 infection had happened before.
“Ang problema is that there is once in a while in every generation, there’s a pandemic, epidemic national, pandemic — and it seems to be virulent and ready to take the civilization of mankind by its nose leading us all to perdition,” he said in an apparent reference to the Spanish flu pandemic that killed millions between 1918 to 1919.
As of Saturday, April 17, the Johns Hopkins University virus dashboard reported almost 3 million deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide.
(Eagle News Service)