MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte made the right decision in sending back some of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine doses to China, as Philippine drug regulators have yet to approve it for general use, a government official said on Thursday.
In an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo said unlike other vaccine candidates in the country that received emergency use authorization (EUA), China-made Sinopharm's vaccine has not yet been studied by Philippine experts.
"Maganda naman po ang naging desisyon ng Presidente na 'yun nga, huwag na munang gamitin ang bakuna na 'yan dito, habang wala pa siyang EUA, at isinauli na na nga po sa Chinese embassy," Domingo explained.
(His decision was good.. We should not use those vaccine doses here in the country because it has yet to be given an EUA. These were returned to the Chinese embassy.)
Duterte got inoculated with the said vaccine on Monday. His aides earlier said the dose is covered by the compassionate use license in February for the Presidential Security Group. The permit is good for 10,000 doses.
The FDA chief also warned that the doctor who requested the compassionate use permit would be liable for any of the vaccine's side effects.
"Hindi po inaral ng mga eksperto natin 'yan, hindi po natin sinuri yan, so hindi po siya katulad ng EUA, na kapag sinabi naming puwede siyang bigyan ng EUA ay talaga pong inaral namin nang mabuti," he noted.
(Our experts did not study the vaccine, the permit is different from that of an EUA wherein we were able to study it thoroughly.)
Meanwhile, a member of the country's vaccine expert panel earlier in the day said Duterte might be inoculated with a different brand of COVID-19 vaccine should Sinopharm fail to get an approval in the country.
On Wednesday, Duterte urged China to send more COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, instead of jabs from Chinese state firm Sinopharm.
He added that he told a Chinese ambassador to "withdraw" 1,000 Sinopharm shots that Beijing sent to Manila because these need further study. He did not say when the jabs were delivered.
In the Philippines, COVID-19 vaccine products from the following have been cleared for emergency use by the country's drug regulator: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Institute, Sinovac Biotech, Johnson & Johnson, and Bharat Biotech.
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