FDA, DOH balk at pinning liability over illegal COVID-19 vaccine useBy LLANESCA T. PANTI,GMA News
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health (DOH) insisted that administering non-FDA approved vaccines in the country was illegal, neither of them would say whether any government official should be liable for the use of the non-FDA-approved Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on members of the Presidential Security Group.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself revealed on Saturday that members of the military were already given the Sinopharm vaccine.
Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana meanwhile explained that COVID-19 vaccines "from the chain of command" were given to servicemen.
However, FDA Director-General Eric Domingo did not believe that the matter was as cut and dried as it sounded.
“Hindi naman natin alam kung si Presidente talaga ang nagdesisyon nun," said Domingo in a media briefing. "Nakausap ko nga rin si Secretary [of Health Francisco Duque III]. We were also surprised by this inoculation. The FDA and DOH were not consulted.
“Katulad po ng sinabi ni Undersecretary Domingo, hindi namin alam kung si Presidente talaga ang nagbigay ng order na magpabakuna. Wala namang sinabing ganoong information. Inaantay pa natin ang full details. We do not have any information on what transpired here,” chimed Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Nevertheless, both officials stressed that the FDA law was explicit in prohibiting the use of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
“Ipinagbabawal po ang pagbebenta, pagdidisribute, pagdi-dispense ng hindi registred na bakuna, at ongoing na po ang ating investigation,” decalred Domingo.
“The DOH and FDA maintains na ang gagamitin lang nating bakuna should be authorized by the FDA to ensure that it is safe, of quality and is going to give protection to the public. We are maintaining our position that we will only use those products registered with the FDA,” added Vergeire.
Furthermore, Domingo said that Sinopharm had yet to apply for an emergency use authorization and that the only COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer to apply for such was Pfizer.
“Hindi pa sila (Sinopharm) nagsasubmit sa amin,” he explained.
“Kung donation po, kahit pagkain o gamot usually po dumadaan sa DOH and in coordination with FDA, pero wala pong dumaan sa amin. Wala pa po kaming impormasyon. Hindi po po namin alam kung saan nanggaling iyong mga bakunang ito.” — DVM, GMA News