Malacañang on Wednesday said the country figuring last in a Covid-19 resilience ranking did not come as a surprise, blaming the supposed vaccine inequality worldwide.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque made the statement in response to a Covid-19 resilience report by Bloomberg, which ranked the Philippines last among 53 countries.

The rankings were based on indicators such as quality of healthcare, vaccination coverage, severity of lockdowns and restrictions, progress on restarting travel and easing border curbs, among others.

“We are not surprised that the Philippines, together with other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are at the bottom of the list while countries which topped the list are developed countries such as Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, Finland and Denmark,” Roque said.

“Vaccines are key towards defeating Covid-19. Unfortunately, as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte articulated in the United Nations, ‘rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles.’ The Philippines is a classic case in point, where inoculation is highly dependent on the availability and stability of vaccine supplies,” Roque added.

Duterte earlier this month accused rich countries of hoarding Covid-19 vaccines as he lamented how poor nations like the Philippines were forced to settle for leftover jabs.

“From what I have seen, that future will likely be one of inequality – where the poor plays catch-up with the rich, with no hope nor chance of ever succeeding in closing the gap,” Duterte told a United Nations (UN) General Assembly,

“We cannot, in all conscience, allow this to happen. An unjust order is inherently volatile,” Duterte said in his last UN General Assembly address.

Duterte also said there was inequality in how these rich countries were already considering booster shots.

The Philippines aims to inoculate up to 90 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity. It recently breached the 20 million mark.

The country has received nearly 70 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from various manufacturers.

It has recorded over 2.5 million infections as of Sept. 29. John Ezekiel J. Hirro