President Rodrigo Duterte will still use the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for his second dose even after he requested China to pull out the brand from the Philippines, Malacanang said Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s second dose would not be included in the vaccines to be returned to China.
Duterte ordered the withdrawal of some 1,000 jabs of the Chinese-made vaccines after medical experts rebuked his decision to get the jab despite the lack of an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Authority.
“Definitely we will not be returning his second dose so he can complete the vaccination,” Roque said, adding “he will complete the two doses.”
Duterte was inoculated on May 3 with the Sinopharm vaccine, the same brand that members of the Presidential Security Group received last year.
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,” Duterte said in a public address late Wednesday evening.
Roque said the removal of Sinopharm would be done so that there would no longer be criticisms in the use of the vaccines.
“The President said that it’s best to return the Sinopharm vaccines to China to stop the criticisms,” he added.
Roque also came to the defense of the Presidential Security Group after the FDA said it has yet to receive any information on the PSG’s use of the unregistered Sinopharm vaccines several months after their inoculation.
Roque said it is not for the Palace to order the PSG to cooperate with the inquiry.
“That is not the role of the Palace. We have investigative agencies for that,” he said.
In December last year, Duterte disclosed that members of the PSG were inoculated with Sinopharm even without a compassionate permit from the FDA, which was granted only in February this year. The same compassionate permit was used for Duterte’s inoculation, FDA director-general Eric Domingo said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health is drafting guidelines that would allow a person to receive different brands of coronavirus vaccines for first and second dose, the FDA said.
Domingo, in an online briefing, made the statement when asked what would happen to those who had been jabbed with the Sinopharm vaccine as first dose.
Domingo said the DOH is now studying the possibility of mixed-use vaccination, especially for vaccinees who experienced severe allergic reactions in their first dose, and have been apprehensive about receiving a second dose of vaccine from the same brand.