China vows to prioritize Philippines COVID-19 vaccine needs

China responded to ’s plea and vowed it would prioritize the Philippines once it developed a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Beijing assured the country of COVID-19 vaccine after the President said he “made a plea” to Chinese President Xi Jinping during his fifth State of the Nation Address last Monday.

Duterte did not elaborate on how he “plead” to XI, although he earlier said that he is confident that China would be the first country to develop the vaccine. He also described China as the “friendly neighbor” of the Philippines, a statement that the Chinese Foreign Ministry also affirmed.

“The Philippines is a friendly close neighbor, and we will give to its needs once we succeed in developing a vaccine,” Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said in a briefing.

According to Wang, the health crisis has become a “new highlight” in the diplomatic ties between China and Philippines.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and the Philippines have been standing together with mutual assistance, turning anti-epidemic cooperation into a new highlight in bilateral relations,” he said.

The Philippines now has more COVID-19 cases than China, as the Department of Health (DOH) reports hospitals are closed to being overwhelmed.

The health department reported 1,874 new coronavirus cases on July 29, bringing the total to 85, 486. China, as of the latest data, has a total of 84,060 COVID-19 cases.

According to the Philippines Food and Drug Administration director-general Eric Domingo, China has three biopharmaceutical companies whose COVID-19 vaccine already moved to Phase 3 trials.

“Phase 3 trials are conducted to confirm and expand on safety and effectiveness results from Phase 1 and 2 trials, to compare the drug to standard therapies for the disease or condition being studied, and to evaluate the overall risks and benefits of the drug,” said US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Philippines also joined in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility that would ensure participating countries would have equal access to the coronavirus vaccines.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said the COVID-19 vaccine would not be available until early .