Despite insistence that it was his doctor who recommended the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine, President Duterte apologized for receiving a vaccine that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The President admitted that Sinopharm, developed by Beijing Biological Products Institute under state-owned China National Biotec Group (CNBG), has not been tested by the country’s FDA.
“So we are sorry. You are right, we are wrong,” Duterte said during a prerecorded public address aired shortly before midnight of Thursday.
“Ganito ho ‘yan (It’s like this), well, we are sorry that we committed the things that you are criticizing us for. We accept responsibility,” he added.
The Chief Executive said at least 55 health experts reached out to him, saying that the Sinopharm vaccine is “deleterious or dangerous for use.”
He argued that Sinopharm has been used in Brazil and Indonesia, and that Chinese officials had themselves inoculated with Sinopharm.
But since it will draw further criticisms, Duterte decided to ask Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to withdraw some 1,000 doses that Beijing donated.
“Ang (The) Sinopharm maybe tomorrow or the following day wala na ‘yan (it’s gone). I made it as a personal request,” Duterte said.
The President earlier said that he wanted the Sinopharm vaccine for himself, his family, and some members of the Cabinet. He revealed asking the Chinese government for Sinopharm doses.
The use of a non-FDA-approved vaccine is illegal in the country, but the agency issued a compassionate use permit for Sinopharm back in February for the Presidential Security Group (PSG). This is the same permit that Duterte described as “a legal excuse.”
“Kaya lang (But) maybe it’s not acceptable to them but it’s legal actually. When the government allowed it to be used for compassionate use that itself was an authority for people to be injected pero kakaunti lang ang naturukan nito (but only a few has been injected),” he said.
The country only has a supply of COVID-19 vaccines from another Chinese manufacturer, Sinovac, as well as some AstraZeneca jabs from the COVAX facility and 15,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.