Philippines' Duterte accuses EU of blocking access to vaccines

MANILA, Feb 2 (dpa): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the European Union of blocking exports of coronavirus vaccines and leaving some countries without access to the shots.

Duterte said in a late-night television address on Monday (Feb 1) that his government was doing everything possible to purchase vaccines and start immunization, but that there has been difficulty in getting supplies.

"We are not as powerful as the EU," he said in response to criticisms that the Philippines has been lagging behind in vaccination.

"We have the money, it’s ready, on standby," he added.

"[But] the European Union has held hostage AstraZeneca," he said.

The EU has been holding crisis talks with AstraZeneca after the vaccine-maker announced major hold-ups to supplying the bloc.

Duterte also indicated that a new EU vaccine export control system could be used to block exports to countries like the Philippines in order to keep doses in the EU.

As of Saturday, national authorities in the EU were allowed to refuse exports from the bloc if they believe that a pharmaceutical company has not fulfilled supply commitments to the EU.

The World Health Organization slammed it as a worrying sign of vaccine nationalism, though the commission insists it is chiefly for transparency purposes.

The WHO announced Monday that the Philippines will get 44 million vaccine doses from vaccine distribution alliance Covax, with up to 9.2 million doses expected in the first half of the year.

The Philippine government has also partnered with private companies to purchase vaccines. The country has recorded 527,272 cases and 10,807 coronavirus deaths as of Monday. - dpa
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Philippines , Duterte , Accuse , EU , Covid-19 , Vaccine , Access , Blockage


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