Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon on Wednesday lamented that the Philippines was lagging behind several countries in its Covid-19 vaccination plans, noting that six out of 10 countries in Southeast Asia have already begun their vaccination programs while the Philippines is still scrambling to secure supplies.
“Many are baffled by our situation. Out of the 10 countries in Southeast Asian, six have already started inoculating their citizens,” Drilon said during a Senate session Wednesday.
Among the countries that have started rolling out the jabs are Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar, leaving the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand behind.
“Bakit tayo hanggang ngayon wala pa rin?” Drilon asked.
“We are left behind in the procurement and administration of Covid-19 vaccines. It is very disappointing. I am worried for the future of our country,” he said in a statement Thursday.
“Each day we fail to start the vaccination raises the risk of further spread of the virus and makes our economic recovery longer,” he stressed.
The country targets to inoculate at least 70 million of its population to achieve herd immunity, he noted.
However, the government has not signed any supply agreement for Covid-19 vaccines, said Drilon, reiterating his concerns about the delays in the arrival of the jabs.
The delay comes on the heels of reports that other pharmaceutical companies have already stopped accepting orders such as Moderna and AstraZeneca.
“I cannot emphasize this enough: our survival as a nation largely depends on our ability to ensure immediate access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to our people. At the rate things are going, however, Filipinos have to wait longer,” Drilon said.
Drilon reiterated that apart from Filipinos’ lack of confidence in Covid-19 vaccines, politics poses a challenge to the government’s mass vaccination program against coronavirus.
“We must prevent the politicization of the Covid-19 vaccination. The Covid-19 vaccination program will not succeed if we inject politics,” he said.