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Duterte urges Pinoys not to fear science-backed COVID-19 vaccines

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday urged Filipinos to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the Philippines welcomed its first shipment of vaccines from China’s Sinovac.

“To my fellow Filipinos: Please set your fears aside. These vaccines are backed by science and deliberated on by our Filipino experts,” he said in a ceremony following the arrival of 600,000 Sinovac doses at the Villamor Airbase.

“I encourage you to get vaccinated at the soonest possible time and be a partner in preventing the further spread of the disease… Your cooperation here is key and will undoubtedly save numerous lives.”

A poll by the OCTA Research group was the latest survey showing low public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, with only two out of 10 Filipinos willing to be inoculated, mostly due to safety concerns.

The Department of Health has repeatedly assured Filipinos that the vaccines approved for emergency use underwent a thorough review by experts, who recommended the use of the Sinovac jab on health workers last week.

The Sinovac shot showed 50.4% efficacy among health workers tending to COVID-19 patients but had 100% protection from severe disease.

“Your government remains committed to a timely rollout that will enable us to confidently reopen our society,” Duterte said. “The delivery of these first vaccines, I hope, will serve as a guarantee to everyone that we are taking a big step in our efforts to overcome this health crisis.”

The Chief Executive also thanked health workers for their “valuable and selfless” contributions to the country’s fight against COVID-19 and vowed government assistance for them.

Duterte also reiterated his earlier calls for equitable vaccine distribution, stressing that “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

“I said it before and I will say it again: COVID-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike. No nation, no people should be left to suffer the ravages of this pandemic for whatever reason,” he said.

The first shots will be administered in several COVID-19 referral hospitals across Metro Manila on Monday.

Health workers will not lose their priority status if they decline the Sinovac jab.

Over 500,000 AstraZeneca doses will also arrive on Monday. — DVM, GMA News