DUTERTE PHILIPPINES
In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he meets members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday April 15, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte has said it’s uncertain when the Philippines can get adequate COVID-19 vaccines while warning more people will die and “the worst of times” is yet to come.

Duterte said his administration has done its best despite criticism and he could use emergency power, for example, to take over hotels if hospital room shortages worsen. But he said wealthy nations control the vaccine supply and other countries could hardly do anything but wait.

“When will we have that stocks sufficient to vaccinate the people? I really do not know. Nobody knows,” Duterte said in a televised meeting Thursday night with key Cabinet members. “I think before it gets better, we’ll have to go to the worst of times.”

“There’s no sufficient supply to inoculate the world. This will take a long time. I’m telling you many more will die here.”

The Philippines has received more than 3 million doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, most of it donated by China and through the COVAX arrangement by the World Health Organization. At least 1.2 million people have been given initial doses. The government aims to purchase at least 148 million doses to inoculate about 70 million adult Filipinos but the plan has faced supply problems and delays.

The vaccination delays have coincided with an alarming surge in coronavirus infections that the government has been scrambling to ease in the hard-hit capital and four outlying provinces.

The Philippines has long been a coronavirus hotspot in Southeast Asia with more than 904,000 infections and 15,594 deaths.