Philippines ready to sell assets to purchase Covid-19 vaccine: Presidential spokesman

Preliminary data showed that the vaccine being tested by Pfizer and BioNTech prepared the body to fight the virus. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Philippines is ready to dispose some of its assets to fund the purchase of coronavirus vaccines once they become available in the market, its presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Friday (July 3).

"When a vaccine against Covid-19 becomes available, we will sell government assets and purchase vaccines for our countrymen," Mr Roque told a televised briefing on state broadcaster PTV-4.

"That's the stand of the President - life before assets," he added.

Mr Roque issued the statement as the first out of four Covid-19 vaccines being tested by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech reportedly showed "encouraging" results.

Preliminary data showed that the said vaccine triggered an "immune system response" and prepared the body to fight the virus.

Last month, China National Biotec Group (CNBG) also announced that an early human test for a coronavirus vaccine candidate showed promising results.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself has repeatedly expressed support for efforts towards the development of a vaccine against Covid-19, even bringing it up during the recent Asean Summit.

He even offered a 10-million-peso-reward (S$280,000) to any Filipino who can discover a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, and promised to lift all quarantine measures and restrictions once a vaccine is developed and made available to the public.

Indonesia is reported to be working on producing its own Covid-19 vaccine next year amid growing anxiety that developing countries could have difficulty getting access to a future jab.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured President Duterte that the Philippines would be prioritised once China is able to develop its own coronavirus vaccine.

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