Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao Asks Joe Biden to Speed Up Moderna Vaccine Shipments

WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao poses for the media following a press conference at his boxing gym in Tokyo on November 25, 2016. WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao on November 25 kept alive hopes for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, saying the epic clash was "possible" but only …
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Philippine boxer-turned-Sen. Manny Pacquiao has asked U.S. President Joe Biden to expedite an approved delivery of Chinese coronavirus vaccines made by the U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna to the Philippines, the Philippine Star reported Tuesday.

Sen. Pacquiao wrote Biden a letter on April 10 through the office of John Law, the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, “urgently” requesting the U.S. president “facilitate the immediate release of the 20 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccines secured by the Philippine government in partnership with the private sector.”

The Philippines expects the first batch of its Moderna vaccine order to arrive in the country by June, but Sen. Pacquiao requested an “early delivery” of the shots citing a “dire health crisis” caused by a “recent spike” in coronavirus infections, “particularly in Metro Manila.” The Metro Manila area contains the Philippine national capital of Manila and is home to roughly 20 million people.

Sen. Pacquiao said this “surge” in Chinese coronavirus cases “has pushed the capacity of several hospitals towards collapse and major hospitals have been operating at full capacity.”

“On behalf of all Filipinos and the Filipino-American community, I humbly ask for the generous help of your government to intervene for the early delivery of the Moderna vaccines,” the senator wrote.

“Even an initial release and delivery of at least 10 million doses this April would go a long way in saving many Filipino lives,” he added.

Sen. Pacquiao told Philippine journalists on Monday that he hoped his past meeting with Biden might help elicit a response and action from the U.S. president, which Pacquiao said he has yet to receive.

“I think he knows me so our letter will help,” the senator said during a virtual press conference on May 3.

Pacquiao met then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and then-U.S. President Barack Obama in February 2011 during a visit to the White House in Washington, DC.

“We are trying to establish a direct line with U.S. President Biden. That’s what we’re working out now,” Sen. Pacquiao said Monday.

“I requested if they could deliver it by this month. By May if America can do it,” the senator added, indicating that he may have reached out further to Biden’s office since his April 10 letter, in which he asked for the Moderna vaccines to be delivered to the Philippines by April.

The Philippines launched its Chinese coronavirus inoculation drive on March 1. The Southeast Asian nation used two Chinese coronavirus vaccine options — China’s state-made Sinovac vaccine candidate and the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed jointly by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University — to start its campaign.

Russia shipped 15,000 doses of its homegrown Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, to the Philippines last month and they “finally” arrived in Manila on May 1 “after a few days of delay,” the Philippine government’s official press agency reported.

About 485,000 additional doses of Sputnik V are expected to arrive in the Philippines in the coming months, ABS-CBN reported May 3. The Philippine presidential office “earlier said the Philippines is looking to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos before the end of the year,” the Manila-based news site added.

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