Duterte Warns Vaccine-Line Jumpers, Saying Donated Shots Are at Risk

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned officials against jumping the vaccine queue, saying the nation risks losing donated doses from the World Health Organization-backed COVAX Facility if health workers aren’t prioritized.

Five mayors and a local celebrity’s son must explain why they were inoculated ahead of priority groups, Duterte said in a televised briefing late Wednesday, adding they may face charges. “We accepted the donations knowing fully well that we have to honor the conditions. Right now, we’re not complying,” he said.

The Philippines Has Become Southeast Asia’s Covid Hotspot: Chart

Available vaccines can inoculate only 30% of the nation’s 1.7 million health workers, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at the same briefing. Workers in factories producing food, drinks and medical supplies should be prioritized, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

The Philippine economy is projected to return to growth this year as vaccinations pick up and lockdowns are limited to smaller areas, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said at the same briefing.

The Philippines added a record 8,773 daily infections on Thursday, bringing its tally to 693,048, the highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Deaths rose 56 to 13,095, according to the Philippines health department.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.