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Palace: Duterte prefers Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine

President Rodrigo Duterte prefers to take a Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday. 

Roque was responding to the claim of the Philippines’ special envoy to China Mon Tulfo that the President wants to get a Sinopharm vaccine but was advised against it by government officials, including vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr.

“Gusto po talaga niya Sinopharm,” Roque said during the Palace briefing.

“Eh kaso nga, wala pa pong EUA, kaya ayaw noong mga doktor, mga eksperto,” he added.

EUA is emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is needed for a vaccine to be legally administered in the country. 

Having an EUA means the FDA is guaranteeing that such COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo also said on Wednesday that Sinopharm, a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, has yet to apply for an EUA. 

“Wala pa pong application sa 'min,” Domingo said during the Laging Handa briefing. 

“Hindi po namin hinaharang [ang application ng Sinopharm for EUA],” he added.

The FDA however approved the compassionate use of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for the benefit of Presidential Security Group (PSG) members, the Palace said last week. It was Duterte who first revealed in December 2020 that members of the military and the PSG already got vaccinated with the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine even if the FDA had yet to issue either an EUA or a permit for compassionate use for this vaccine at that time. PSG commander Brigadier General Jesus Durante III confirmed the President’s statement, even saying that they inoculated themselves with the unregistered Sinopharm vaccine.

Roque, however, did not categorically deny Tulfo’s claim that the President had talked to a Sinopharm representative identified as John Boja because the Chief Executive wants to secure their vaccine.

“I am not belying Mon Tulfo. That is his article (The Manila Times column),” Roque said.

“Ask him, not me,” Roque added.

World Health Organization Philippine country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe on Tuesday said China’s Sinopharm vaccine is still undergoing evaluation—KG, GMA News