Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday accused rich countries of hoarding COVID-19 vaccines while the poor “wait for trickles.”
“The picture is bleak. There is a man-made drought of vaccines ravaging poor countries,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded video statement at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.
“Rich countries hoard lifesaving vaccines while poor nations wait for trickles. They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider half-doses just to get by,” he added.
He described the development as “shocking” and “selfish” that can "neither be justified rationally nor morally."
The president said the coronavirus pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated everywhere. "Vaccines are key to achieving this," he said, urging "privileged partners" to fully support COVAX, the global vaccine sharing initiative led by the UN.
The WHO has also time and again condemned wealthy nations for stockpiling coronavirus vaccines, and has called for a halt on COVID-19 vaccine boosters through the end of the year.
Vaccination campaign in the Southeast Asian country began in March, and has since been plagued by shortages and delivery delays.
According to Our World in Data, a tracking website affiliated with Oxford University, some 19 million people – 17% of the population – are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Philippines.
Just like COVID-19, Duterte said climate change has also exposed the "varying vulnerabilities" of countries around the globe. "We are now at a critical tipping point, where failure to act leads to cataclysmic consequences for the whole of humankind."
He said the Philippines accepts its share of the responsibility and will do its part “to avert this collective disaster.”
His climate commitment before the UN is to reduce Philippine's greenhouse gas emissions by 75% in 2030. In this regard, he cited his moratorium on the construction of new coal power plants and the directive to explore the nuclear energy option.