MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte may talk to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to secure more COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines, Malacañang said Thursday, as governments grapple with a tight supply of pandemic jabs.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte has no immediate scheduled meeting with fellow world leaders but that the president had mentioned a possible engagement with Modi.
“[N]abanggit na po dati ng ating Pangulo, si (Prime Minister) Modi, dahil isa rin po iyan na major source of ating vaccines (There is no immediate schedule available but the President mentioned Prime Minister Modi previously because [India] is one of the major sources of our vaccines),” Roque said when asked about the leaders who will meet with Duterte to discuss the supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Last Tuesday, Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telesummit and discussed key topics, including the need to cooperate against the pandemic and to ramp up the production of vaccines.
The Philippines is ordering 20 million doses of Russian vaccine Sputnik V as part of its goal to inoculate 70 million people by yearend. Duterte and Putin agreed that Sputnik V must be mobilized to as many countries as possible.
Duterte is scheduled to deliver a public address Thursday night, where he was expected to discuss details of his conversation with Putin, Roque said.
During a phone conversation with Duterte last June, Modi expressed readiness to supply the Philippines with affordable COVID-19 medicines and pharmaceutical products.
“Prime Minister Modi assured the supply of affordable medicines and COVID-19 pharmaceutical products to the Philippines, including Hydroxychloroquine,” a Palace statement released after the phone conversation read.
“Prime Minister Modi likewise said that India is ready to extend all possible cooperation to the Philippines and that the Philippines will definitely benefit from the vaccine that India is developing,” it added.
The Philippines recently signed a supply deal for 30 million doses of COVID-19 shots developed by American firm Novavax. The vaccines will be supplied by the Serum Institute of India and are expected to be delivered in the third or fourth quarter.
The Philippines has administered 1,255,760 COVID-19 vaccine doses as of April 13. A total of 1,093,651 persons have received the first dose while 162,065 got two doses.
The government expects the arrival of more than 16 million vaccine jabs within the second quarter, the bulk of them scheduled to be delivered in June.
A total of 13.5 million doses of COVID-19 shots are expected to arrive in July and as much as 20 million doses each are scheduled to be delivered in August and September.
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