Many have received Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in PH — PRRD

Published December 27, 2020, 9:47 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte claimed Saturday that many people in the Philippines have  received Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine despite  not yet getting the green light for use from local regulators.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte went back to Manila a day after Christmas to meet selected members of his Cabinet along with infectious disease experts. The emergency meeting, held in Malacañang Palace on December 26,2020, was convened to discuss the emerging fast-spreading new variant of Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease found in the United Kingdom.

In his meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Diseases and other medical experts in Malacañang, Duterte said that he will not lie that a lot of people in the Philippines, particularly soldiers, have been vaccinated.

“Sabihin ko sa iyo, marami na ang nagpa-injection dito sa Sinopharm (Let me tell you, there are many here who were already injected the Sinopharm vaccine),” he said.

“Halos lahat ng sundalo natusukan na (Almost all soldiers received it). I have to be frank and I have to tell the truth. I will not foist a lie,” he added.

According to the President, he has yet to hear negative side effects among those who received the Sinopharm vaccine.

The military is among the priority list of people in the Philippines who will receive the vaccine. During the meeting, Duterte reiterated that he wanted the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to get the vaccine first so they can perform their jobs well.

“Pero gusto ko mauna sila (I want them to go first) because I do not want a sickly Armed Forces and a sickly police (force),” he said.

“The reason why is that they have to be in good health all the time because they are responsible for the law and order of this country,” he added.

Duterte’s claim about the early vaccination came following reports of unauthorized vaccinations in Binondo, Manila.

During the meeting, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo said they have not caught anyone performing or involved in the illegal vaccinations.

“Wala nga po kaming mahuli (We haven’t caught anybody),” Domingo told the President.

“Naka-tatlong raid na po kami sa Makati at saka sa Binondo pero wala naman po kaming nahuli pa (We conducted three raids in Makati and Binondo but we’ve caught no one),” he added.

A report by the South China Morning Post said that China’s Centre for Drug Evaluation is reviewing Sinopharm’s application to release one of its two candidates to the market.

The two COVID-19 vaccines have been undergoing testing for safety and efficacy in 10 countries across South America and the Middle East. Early this month, the United Arab Emirates approved one of them for use, saying it was 86 percent effective. 

No vaccine, no VFA

President Duterte warned the United States Saturday that he will proceed with the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) if it fails to produce 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines.

Duterte asked the public not to believe in reports that the US initially committed to give the Philippines 10 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech by January, saying the US cannot even distribute the vaccines in its own country.

He, instead, put the US government on notice that if it fails to provide the Philippines with COVID-19 vaccines, it can say goodbye to the idea of staying in the country.

“Iyong Visiting Forces Agreement, matatapos na. Ngayon kapag hindi ako pumayag aalis talaga sila (The VFA is about to end. Now if I don’t agree with the terms, they will have to get out),” he said.

“Kung hindi sila maka-deliver, maski na a (Now, if they fail to deliver even just a) minimum of 20 million (doses of) vaccines, they better get out. No vaccine, no stay here,” he added.

“They are put on notice that if they cannot produce the vaccine, 20 million
(doses) at least, immediately (get out),” Duterte said.