MANILA, August 11- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will offer himself as the first subject for clinical trials, as Russia has offered to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the country for free.
In his late evening address to the nation on Monday, the President announced he would volunteer to be vaccinated in public to see if the medical treatment from Russia is safe for public consumption.
“I am overjoyed because Russia is our friend… They will give us vaccines and did not say anything about the payment,” Duterte said.
“I will volunteer to receive it in public. I will be the first to be experimented on,” he pointed out.
But he also explained that further clinical studies would be needed.
“If will work on me, it will work on everyone,” Duterte explained
The president also said that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin would discuss the number of vaccines the country would need, as “some people will receive the injections.”
“We will look at the results…You will be given the vaccine and see whether your body will accept it or not…” Duterte said.
“There will be volunteers. Now, when the vaccine arrives, so there will be no talk,” he pointed out.
However, Duterte appealed to the public to just wait for the vaccine, hoping that the Philippines would be COVID-free by the month of December.
“You just wait, only for a very short time. By December, 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.
The Philippine president also emphasized in his speech that while he has seen both positive and saddening developments in the continuing battle against COVID-19, a continuous rise in COVID cases especially in the Metro Manila have recorded.
“We are consistently adding to and improving on testing capability as well as enhance our capacity for contact tracing,” he said.
“I will tell President Putin that I have a big trust and hope in him… your studies in combatting COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” Duterte said.
The hopeful Philippine leader also clarified he doesn’t think Russia would renege on its promise.
“Before he told me when I visited him, he said…If you have a medical question mark on anything about medicines or cures, feel free to call me and anyone you would like to be confined and treated here in Russia, we will,” Duterte explained.
“That’s what he said… and we will help you develop the — the medicines that your country needs,” Duterte pointed out.
The Department of Health said that the administration has allotted an initial budget of P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.
Philippines Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines is also ready to spend about P20 billion to distribute free COVID-19 vaccines to around 20 million people.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines has already a total of 139,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,312 recorded deaths. (By Vic Galinato)