MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday appealed to global organizations to ensure that poor countries would get enough COVID-19 vaccines, as he said wealthy nations are now discussing supplies for booster shots.
The health chief sought for the intervention of the United Nations and the World Health Organization with many across the globe still without the jabs.
"I don't think this is right," he said in Filipino at a briefing in Pampanga. "We hope they will listen to the sentiment of low to middle-income countries where vaccines are still lacking."
In the Philippines, only roughly 2.6% of the estimated 110 million population have completed their two shots. That remains a fraction of the 50 to 70 million that government is eyeing this year.
Supply of the jabs at home has also yet to become stable. So far, the country continues to receive the bulk of vaccines from the WHO-led COVAX Facility, and procured doses from Sinovac, Sputnik V and Moderna.
Duque said he would soon formalize his call to the UN and the WHO.
"Our vaccine coverage is still low that's why we are appealing," he continued, still in Filipino. "I will write to them to remind rich countries not to forget the poor ones."
"Many peoples of the world still don't have even the first vaccine," Duque added.
Some countries have since announced vaccine donation to Asia and the Philippines. The United States is said to be sending between 800,000 to a million doses to Manila, per vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
Japan last month also announced it would give a million AstraZeneca doses to the Philippines which could arrive sometime this July.
Bloomberg's global vaccine tracker has noted that over 3.22 billion vaccine doses have been administered in 180 countries.
It said there are now enough doses to fully inoculate 21% of the world's population, "but the distribution has been lopsided."
"Countries and regions with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated more than 30 times faster than those with the lowest," Bloomberg said.