20210211 vaccines philippines
FILE PHOTO: Health workers and employees of Philippine General Hospital register for COVID-19 vaccination, expected to arrive this month, at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Philippines, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo Image Credit: Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will allow private companies to import vaccines "at will" to boost inoculations amid a global supply crunch and to help speed up the reopening of the economy.

Businesses can choose where to source and import vaccines, Duterte said. Private companies were previously required to enter a deal with the government and the vaccine manufacturer to secure supplies.

"Business people can give these vaccines to their employees, so that the economy will be opened," Duterte said at a televised briefing late Monday.

The Philippines' vaccination campaign is lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbors as it faces a new surge in infections and an economic recession that's seen persisting into this quarter.

The government will give 1,000 pesos ($21) each to 22.9 million individuals affected by the one-week lockdown of the capital and nearby areas that started Monday, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said at the same briefing.