House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez has called on the United States to donate COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, one of its long-time allies in South East Asia. 

Rodriguez says the US will have a surplus on vaccines since it has already obtained a stockpile of jabs – more than what its population demands.

He shared that White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, in A BBC interview, said that the US may not need the millions of vaccines it ordered from British-Swedish vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca

Taking this into account, Rodriguez says the oversupply of vaccines can instead be donated towards the Philippines. 

“The US can donate those doses to us, including its excess from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson,” he said. Rodriguez adds that the US has already vaccinated 200-million out of its 330-million population. 

The House leader says acquiring these vaccines from the west will reduce the Philippines’ dependence on China-made jabs – CoronaVac.

“Our access to western-made vaccines will lessen our country’s dependence on China’s CoronaVac and give Filipinos vaccination options,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Due to the difficulty in acquiring western-made shots, Filipinos have no other choice “but to take the China-made shots because it is the only one available.”

“Our remaining supply consists of perhaps only a few thousand doses of CoronaVac, while AstraZeneca has run out, forcing many vaccination centers to pause immunization. We badly need additional supply,” he explained. 

According to the Cagayan de Oro representative, if the donations push through – the relationship between the US and the Philippines will be strengthened. 

“It would likewise be a counterpart gesture to the Chinese donation of one million doses of CoronaVac. They could send us one million doses of AstraZeneca, which the government could give to the more than half a million healthcare workers and seniors citizens who have received their first shot of the British-Swedish vaccine that was donated by the World Health Organization (WHO),” he said. 

At the moment, the Philippines is in negotiations with the US to acquire three million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. announced on Wednesday (April 21).

The Philippine government has also touched base with the UK to access another three million doses of the same vaccine, Galvez shared.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez shared that the western country is already considering the request or the potential ‘donation’ of COVID-19 vaccines.

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Image credit: Noel Celis / AFP via Getty Images