President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday admitted not knowing when the country would have sufficient stocks of vaccines to protect its people against Covid-19.

In a televised address, the president said he did not know because “nobody knows.”

“Now, when will we have that stocks sufficient to vaccinate the people? I really do not know. Nobody knows,” he said.

The country has so far received 3.025 million Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The government’s inoculation program has rolled out 1,255,716 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of April 15.

So far, the country has been using only vaccines from China’s Sinovac and British firm AstraZeneca.

Doses of US-made vaccines Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson and Russia’s Sputnik V are expected to arrive in May at the earliest.

To help solve the country’s vaccine woes, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government had entered into talks with drug manufacturers about producing their vaccines in the Philippines.

“Dito po ay ine-encourage po sana na may government procurement of locally produced vaccines, subject to standards, specs and prices,” Lopez said.

The trade chief said local vaccine production was needed as he likened the Covid-19 situation to war.

“So it’s likened to a war na pagka-giyera tulad noong mga giyera noong araw na ang gobyerno will really mandate a manufacturer to manufacture the needed ammo and bullets pero kasabay noon bibilin nila ‘yon kasi hindi sila aasa sa import dahil nga hindi magiging reliable,” he said.

“Iyong pinagawa nila locally, kailangan i-commit din nung government na bibilin natin ‘yan para talagang maging self-reliant and self-sufficient tayo.”

The country aims to inoculate 70 percent of its population to achieve herd immunity. John Ezekiel J. Hirro