Willy Pulia, who turned 58 this week, is scared of getting COVID-19 – and for good reason. He's a nursing assistant at a hospital in Manila, which means he inevitably comes in contact with patients who've contracted the virus. He lives with his 96-year-old father. And he's not been vaccinated.
In fact, as of this week, not a single health worker in the Philippines has been vaccinated. And the fear and anxiety among these workers has led more than a few to take a leave or quit their jobs during this public health crisis, according to colleagues. The Philippines has roughly 1,700 new cases of COVID-19 each day, with more than half million total confirmed cases, second only to Indonesia in the region.
Why is the Philippines in such dire straits when it comes to vaccines?
"The problem is that rich countries bought all the supplies," says President Rodrigo Duterte. "There's a scramble [for vaccines] now," he said.
The future looks a bit brighter – but with caveats.
The Philippines is preparing for the arrival of its first COVID-19 vaccines with Duterte confirming the country's ultra-cold storage capacity needed for the vials and promising delivery by the end of the month.