President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has said in a statement that his country will prioritise coronavirus vaccines produced in Russia and China, should they be "as good as any other in the market". He added that with the vaccine's procurement, should it be available, the country would be "back to normal" by the end of the year.
Duterte explained narrowing his selection of suppliers by the fact that most Western pharmaceutical companies demand advance payments and are in general "all about profit". He advised all such companies not to bother with negotiating with Manila, warning them "I’ll kick your *ss".
"They want you to finance their research and the perfection of the vaccine. They want cash advance before they deliver the vaccine", Duterte said.
The president stressed that the country cannot legally buy or order goods that are still non-existent or are not available for sale on the market, effectively prohibiting the purchase of vaccines that involve pre-payments. He noted that Chinese companies also ask for a "reservation fee", without revealing the names of the firms, but added that with them "you do not have to beg, you do not have to plead".
"If we say that there is still no vaccine yet, there is nothing with finality and you want us to make the reservation by depositing money, you must be crazy", the president concluded.
The Philippines, one of the worst-hit Asian nations with over 266,000 COVID-19 cases, has held negotiations with Pfizer, Moderna, and a number of Russian and Chinese pharmaceutical companies on the procurement of a coronavirus vaccine. In addition to this, the country has arrived at an agreement with Russia to cooperate on running medical trials of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V. Upon the announcement of its registration, Duterte was among the first to suggest that the Philippines might buy the vaccine, while volunteering to be the first in the country to try the new drug.