Thankful for the offer, Duterte willing to be "injected" first with coronavirus vaccine from Russia
President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed confidence on the coronavirus vaccine now being developed by Russia as he offered himself to be the first to be "experimented on" once it reaches the Philippines.
In a televised message in Davao City, Duterte said this will be his way to show his trust to Russia for offering to supply the Philippines with the vaccine.
"When the vaccine arrives, in public, without much fuss, in public I will have myself injected. I will be the first one to be experimented on. It's okay with me," he said.
"I will also tell (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," he said.
"That's why to show that I have faith and (they) did not make a mistake of offering, when (the vaccine) arrives, their doctor or our doctor can inject me first. Let's see if it's fine with me. If it's fine with me, it's fine to all," Duterte added.
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev earlier said that Russia is ready to closely cooperate with the the Philippine partners in the field of COVID-19 vaccine.
He has cited three options for cooperation - the clinical trials, the supply of vaccine to the Philippines, and local production of vaccines in the country.
He has said that the proposal has been already submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Duterte said when Russia offered the vaccine, which development has been showing promising results, it did not say that the Philippines will pay.
He presumed that Putin wants to help the Philippines by giving it free.
The President asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to look for the "best guy to be dealing with Russia in this area, the transfer of technology or the vaccine."
He recalled that when he visited Russia, Putin promised to help in the field of medicine in the Philippines.
"He said 'If you have a medical question mark on anything about medicines or cures, feel free to call me and anyone you'd like to be confined and treated here in Russia, we will'. That's what he said and 'we will help you develop the medicines that your country need'. That's what he said. It's just that there was no follow up. It will require constant communication and exchange of ideas...I do not think Russia will renege on its promise," he added.
During his televised message, he signed a letter for the Russian government expressing his gratitude for its kindness to the Philippines.
He promised that the Philippines and Russia will remain friends.
"I do not take sides in the geopolitical struggle," he said.
Duterte also told Filipinos to hold on as by the end of this year there could already be a vaccine against COVID-19.
He noted that other pharmaceutical companies, such as those in the United States, are also developing COVID-19 vaccine.
"By December as I said, in the fullness of God's time, we will have hopefully COVID-free December and we can enjoy this Christmas season. Just wait for the vaccine," Duterte said. Celerina Monte/DMS