Duterte tells foreign leaders— All countries should have ‘fair, easy’ access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night told Asian foreign leaders during a virtual summit that all countries should be given “fair and easy” access to vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) once they become available.

“We are confident our scientists and experts within and outside our region will rise to this colossal challenge. A vaccine and/or treatment must be found sooner rather than later,” Duterte said in his address during the special virtual summit of the Association of Southeast Nations and leaders from China, Japan and South Korea.

“Our duty then and that of relevant multilateral institutions is to make sure that all countries will have fair and easy access to vaccines and treatments. Discussions on modalities should be started,” Duterte las said.

“It is the only way,” Duterte said.

“We must continue working together to end this pandemic with finality,” the President said.

The Philippine President said the country now is ready to participate in clinical trials and medical studies of potential vaccines and medicines such as Avigan, a Japanese flu drug that Chinese authorities said in March could be effective for treating COVID-19 patients.

Potential vaccines are being developed in some countries including the United States, Japan and China, where the virus was first detected in December last year.

Last Monday, Duterte told the nation in a televised address that he will lift the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon once the antibody drug against the deadly disease is available to the public.

He said a pharmaceutical company may start selling the drug in May.

Duterte imposed on March a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of the virus, including sweeping restrictions on travel and mass gatherings and closure of schools and most businesses.

The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine is scheduled to end on April 30./Stacy Ang

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