MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it is investigating the use of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines administered to the Presidential Security Group (PSG) while monitoring its side effects on those who took it.
“I am sure that the investigation has already started. Now whether this will be finished within a week or 2 is something that’s not yet clear to us because they are still in the gathering of information stage,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during a televised press conference at the East Avenue Medical Center.
He said the Food and Drug Administration is still interviewing people to “connect the dots.”
Video courtesy of the Department of Health
Duque said the FDA and the Epidemiology Bureau is also monitoring the possible side effects experienced by those who took the unregistered vaccines.
“Yung mga naturukan ay mangyari lang po inform nila sa kinakaulang awtoridad yun pong adverse effects na kanilang naranasan para ito po ay makasama sa ating datos both short, medium and long term assessment of these vaccines,” he added.
(Those who were vaccinated will have to inform the authorities of the adverse effects they experienced so it can be included in the short, medium and long term assessment of these vaccines.)
The PSG admitted that they administered the COVID-19 vaccines themselves back in September.
"We’ve done our research. For now, we’ve found the appropriate vaccine for us, which I could say is a traditional vaccine. So we took the risk," Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III said this week. He did not disclose how many PSG personnel took the vaccine.
He said in another interview that there were no side effects.
Under the FDA law, people who accept the vaccines cannot be made liable but those who import, distribute and administer unregistered or illegal vaccines can be fined or imprisoned.
There are still no approved COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines. While it was reported that the PSG took the vaccine of Chinese firm Sinopharm, only Pfizer has applied for emergency use in the country. The FDA has said it estimates that Pfizer will be approved for use in the Philippines by January although it is unclear if a supply can immediately be shipped to the country.