Duterte: COVID-19 vaccine must be considered a 'global public good'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) – President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) the need for equal access to COVID-19 vaccines among countries in the world.

"When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy," Duterte said in his pre-recorded speech aired during the 75th UNGA on Wednesday (Philippine time).

Despite the ongoing race by rich countries in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, the President said it must be considered a "global public good" without compromising its safety and effectiveness.

"Ensuring universal access to anti COVID-19 technologies and products is pivotal in the global pandemic recovery," he said.

The President also thanked frontliners and healthcare professionals who risked their lives to defeat the pandemic. He also expressed his condolences to families in the world who lost a loved one due to the virus.

Duterte added the COVID-19 pandemic brought an "unfamiliar" global landscape which became the biggest test for the UN and the world since the World War II.

"COVID-19 knows no border. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no creed," Duterte explained.

He pointed out the world's future depends on how countries will address the medical crisis that has infected over 31 million people and killed around 966,000 lives worldwide.

"While each nation has its own strategy in fighting the pandemic, what the world needs are coordinated international plans and efforts to pursue a common purpose," said Duterte.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as the pandemic bared the world's fragilities on social structures, countries around the world must forge solidarity in solving the virus.

"To overcome today's fragilities and challenges we need more international cooperation not less; strengthened multilateral institutions not a retreat from them; better global governance not a chaotic free-for-all," he said.

Duterte welcomed the launch of the UN COVID Response and Recovery Fund, aimed at helping countries economically affected by the pandemic.

The Philippines now has 291,789 confirmed COVID-19 cases, along with 56,097 active infections. The country's new cases dipped to 1,635 on Tuesday after two weeks of reporting over 3,000 new infections daily.

Some 5,049 persons have died and 230,643 individuals recovered from COVID-19 in the country.