MANILA — The government has not yet received any emergency use authorization (EUA) request from COVID-19 vaccine developer Sinopharm, the Department of Health said Tuesday, contrary to the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman.
“Wala pang application ang Sinopharm dito katulad ng sabi ni Usec. (Eric) Domingo,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters during a briefing.
(There is still no application from Sinopharm as mentioned by Usec. Domingo.)
During the country’s first COVID-19 vaccination event at the Philippine General Hospital, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the Chinese state-owned company had already filed for an EUA.
But Domingo, who is also director general of the Food and Drug Administration, said on Monday that he had not received any report that Sinopharm was formally requesting that its COVID-19 vaccine be used in the Philippines.
Currently, only Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Chinese private firm Sinovac has received EUA in the Philippines. Meanwhile, awaiting approval are Russia’s Gamaleya Institute and India’s Bharat Biotech.
The COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac were the first to arrive in the country on Sunday and were used to inoculate health workers on Monday. The first batch of vaccines were donated by the China.
Sinopharm has only been able to get a compassionate special permit for 10,000 doses for the Presidential Security Group.
Sinopharm has repeatedly been involved in controversy. It was supposedly the vaccine used by the PSG to inoculate its members despite Philippines not yet having approved COVID-19 vaccines at the time. The vaccines were apparently smuggled.
It is also the brand reportedly used by columnist Ramon Tulfo to have himself inoculated ahead of the government’s legal immunization campaign.
The FDA on Tuesday admitted that it is facing a blank wall in its investigation on PSG’s illegal inoculation since they are “not getting any information.”
Roque on Monday said that based on his personal legal opinion, he thinks the previous illegal vaccinations can be remedied by the compassionate use permit issued to Sinopharm.
“I don’t know quite frankly but a compassionate use permit has been issued to Sinopharm…My initial legal opinion is it may have the effect of ratifying what happened earlier but it can be wrong,” he said.
It is unclear is Sinopharm has any plans to apply for an EUA in the Philippines. It was revealed previously that the state-owned company inquired whether the Philippines was interested in funding their clinical trials in the country. However, the Department of Science and Technology clarified that the government cannot fund clinical trials of companies.