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Palace says it is awaiting results of FDA probe into unauthorized vaccinations

Malacañang is awaiting the findings of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding its investigation on the alleged unauthorized vaccination against COVID-19 in the country.

This comes after Ramon Tulfo, the country's special ambassador to China, admitted that he got inoculated by a smuggled vaccine manufactured by Chinese firm Sinopharm last year.

"Inaantay po natin ang aksyon ng FDA sa mga bagay-bagay na ito," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a press briefing Wednesday, as he maintained that the Duterte administration does not patronize smuggled products and the use of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines is not a government policy.

"Wala pong ganyan na polisiya. Kung may ganyan po eh di sana commercial quantity na po na 'di inaprubahan ang kumalat," he said.

Roque said he could not speak about Tulfo's claim that President Rodrigo Duterte has already talked with a representative from Sinopharm as he was not present during their meeting.

"I admit I was in the adjacent room when Mon Tulfo was there but I couldn't really hear what they were discussing," he said.

Pressed, Roque urged the media to verify the information with Tulfo himself.

"I don't understand the big deal about the Mon Tulfo write-up. That's the account of Mon Tulfo and if you want verification please contact Mon Tulfo," he said.

Tulfo made the admission about his inoculation in his The Manila Times column and later in a One News interview, saying he got the smuggled vaccine last October since he wanted to test it on himself as he was applying to be a Sinopharm distributor.

Tulfo said his actions are aboveboard and he should not be held liable for it since he was not a government official. He also said his post as special envoy to China is only "honorific" and that the President was aware of the use of Sinopharm's vaccine in the country.

Roque said he is not aware of Tulfo has been re-appointed to his position.

"I have to check because special envoys are appointed on a six-month basis," he said. "Hindi ko alam kung na-reappoint si Mon Tulfo."

A vaccine needs an emergency use authorization (EUA) issued by the FDA for it to be legally used in the country.

The FDA can also issue a permit for compassionate use of a vaccine which allows legal administration of the vaccine but does not contain FDA’s guarantee of safety and efficacy.

It was Duterte who first revealed in December 2020 that members of the military already got vaccinated with Sinopharm vaccine even if the FDA is yet to issue either an EUA or a permit for compassionate use on it.

The FDA probed the vaccination of PSG members but said it faced a "blank wall" after the PSG refused to cooperate.

The Department of Health on Wednesday said its investigation on the use of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines will now include Tulfo.  —KBK, GMA News