2021-09-22 00:34:37 Duterte Accuses Rich Countries of Hoarding Covid Vaccines

Duterte Accuses Rich Countries of Hoarding Covid Vaccines

With his country lagging behind in Covid vaccinations, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte railed against the world’s wealthy countries at the United Nations on Tuesday, accusing them of hoarding vaccines while the poor “wait for trickles.”

Mr. Duterte, reinforcing his reputation as a blunt speaker, called the rich-poor divide in vaccination rates “scandalous.” His remarks to the 193-member General Assembly, delivered via prerecorded video, were among the most vehement condemnations of the inequities exposed by the pandemic.

The majority of the 5.86 billion vaccine doses administered so far have come from just ten wealthy countries.

“There is a man-made vaccine drought ravaging poor countries,” Mr. Duterte said. “Rich countries stockpile lifesaving vaccines while poor countries wait for trickles. They are now discussing booster shots, while developing countries are considering half-doses to get by.”

He called the disparity “shocking beyond belief” and said it “must be condemned for what it is — a selfish act that can neither be justified rationally nor morally.”

The Philippines has one of the lowest Covid vaccination rates in Asia, with only 16% of its population fully immunized, and Delta variant infections have been on the rise in recent months. The country is also one of only a few that has kept schools closed throughout the pandemic, putting its 27 million school-age children at a disadvantage.

Mr. Duterte has justified closing elementary and high schools by claiming that students and their families need to be protected from disease. However, his policy has sparked a backlash among parents and students in a vast country plagued by endemic poverty. Many people, particularly those living in remote or rural areas, do not have access to online learning.

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Duterte Accuses Rich Countries of Hoarding Covid Vaccines