Duterte says doctors have right to choose COVID-19 vaccine brand

Published March 1, 2021, 11:42 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government poses “no objection” if the country’s medical frontliners would prefer to take coronavirus vaccines developed by western manufacturers instead of Chinese suppliers, President Duterte said Monday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

As the government kicked off the vaccination drive, the President said he respects the “right” of health professionals to choose the vaccine brand.

At least 600,000 doses of vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech have been donated by China to the Philippines. The country’s immunization drive kicked off Monday, a day after these Chinese vaccines, the country’s first supply, arrived in Manila.

“Even the doctors, some are not quite keen sa Sinovac but that’s their right. They want maybe the US. It could be AstraZeneca, it could be Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson is US talaga ‘yan. It could be Moderna…Wala kaming objections diyan kung ayaw ninyo (We have no objection to that),” the President said during his televised address Monday, March 1.

According to the President, the health workers could wait to get inoculated if they refuse to take the Sinovac vaccine. 

“Maghintay na lang kayo pag magdating ng bakuna (You may wait for the arrival of the vaccine) of your choice and not the ones being applied now to the people,” Duterte said.

“We respect your decision on the matter,” he added.

The country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier allowed the emergency use of the Sinovac vaccines in the country. The vaccine however has been not been recommended to health workers exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its varying efficacy levels.  The local drug regulator later clarified that this was only a recommendation, adding the health workers may still receive the vaccine if they want.

The Palace earlier disclosed that the President was “perplexed” after the FDA advised against the use of the Sinovac vaccine on health workers. 
Duterte even summoned FDA chief Rolando Enrique Domingo to the Palace to explain such “colatilla” on the Sinovac vaccine even though the World Health Organization laid down the 50 percent minimum threshold of vaccine efficacy.

The President has passed up the chance to get vaccinated with Sinovac drug and decided to wait for the arrival of another Chinese-developed brand. Duterte, 75, said his doctor advised him on the vaccine brand suitable for his advanced age.