Malacañang said President Duterte will still be able to get his second dose of the Sinopharm coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine despite his request to China to pull out the said brand from the Philippines.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Duterte ordered the withdrawal of some 1,000 jabs of the Chinese-made vaccines from the Philippines on Wednesday because they have not been granted an emergency use authorization by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In his press briefing on Thursday, Roque said the Sinopharm vaccines would be sent back to China but President Duterte’s second dose would be secured.
“Siyempre, hindi ibabalik yung pang-second dose ni Presidente, para matapos niya ang second dose niya (Definitely we will not be returning his second dose so he can complete the vaccination),” he said.
“Tatapusin po natin yung second dose (He will complete the two doses),” he added.
President Duterte was vaccinated against COVID-19 using the Sinopharm vaccine on the evening of May 3 after getting clearance from his doctor. He, however, was criticized because Sinopharm was yet to receive an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
The President accepted the criticisms after admitting 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.
“We are sorry. You are right, we are wrong,” he said during his prerecorded public address late Wednesday evening.
“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.
President Duterte, however, insisted that he was free to get what vaccine he wanted because “this is my life.”
Despite the lack of regulatory approval, Duterte said he did not break any law when he decided to receive the said vaccine.
“Alam ko naman (I know) compassionate use so there was this legal point that made it possible for me to [get it],” he said.
In February this year, the FDA issued a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines to be administered to the Presidential Security Group (PSG), a month after Domingo said that the agency can issue a compassionate special permit to inoculate small groups of people involved in critical missions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vaccination of the PSG was once the center of controversy after President Duterte revealed in December last year that some Filipino soldiers have been vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccines. The PSG admitted that some of its members already received the vaccine but Duterte ordered them to “shut up” on the vaccination.