MANILA - A concerned citizen has sounded the alarm over the alleged sale of COVID-19 vaccination slots in Mandaluyong City, where a customer could choose the brand of vaccines available at a vaccination site.
"Norman," whose name is withheld for sensitivity of the matter, said he received messages from a college friend supposedly offering COVID-19 vaccines at prices from P12,000 to P15,000
“Minessage lang po ako ng friend ko asking kung gusto ko ng Pfizer o Astra (AstraZeneca) sabi ko why not. And then when I realized na sa LGU pala 'yun, I asked if kung anong pinuhunan nila ‘bat nila ibinebenta.' Apparently nagbebenta sila ng slots for Mandaluyong, sabi ko eh from Las Piñas ako ’bat mo binebenta yan?” Norman told ABS-CBN News.
(My friend just messaged me if I want Pfizer of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines, then I said why not? When I realized that it came from the LGU I asked 'why are you selling it?' Apparently they are selling slots for Mandaluyong, but I am from Las Piñas)
“For Pfizer ‘pag kilala ‘nya daw P12,000 and then normally daw P15,000 nila ibinebenta," the source added.
(For Pfizer vaccines, he is selling it at a discounted price of P12,000 but it is normally being sold at P15,000)
The slots for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, meanwhile, could supposedly cost at least P10,000.
To confirm this, Norman asked a friend related to a Mandaluyong official, who turned out to be unaware of the scheme, he said.
“'Yung niece ng vice mayor, friend ko so I asked if alam niya ba 'yan and then I talked to the niece, hindi daw and apparently, kahit sila nakapila so nagalit sila so nagalit sila, so I think they [will] look into it na din," said Norman.
(I asked my friend, a niece of the vice mayor, if he knows about this and apparently he has no idea. Even they are falling in line for vaccination so they are very angry about this. I think they are looking into it.)
To provide proof on the vaccines allegedly being sold, his friend involved in the scheme sent screenshots of payment receipts regarding the said slots that cost P12,000.
Norman, however, said it is still unclear whether his friend is directly involved in selling the vaccine slots or is only a middleman.
Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the report already reached their office on Friday afternoon, and he would have it investigated by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“We will ask the PNP to investigate and if true, we will file charges against those responsible," Malaya said.
The government official reiterated that vaccines and vaccine slots should not be sold.
“We received a similar report this afternoon. The vaccines procured by the government are inoculated at no expense to the individual and cannot be sold. Any person who will sell government procured vaccines will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he added.
The development came as the government prohibited announcing in advance the brands of COVID-19 shots available in a vaccine site, to supposedly prevent mass gatherings.
This, after thousands of residents flocked to vaccination sites in some Metro Manila cities offering Pfizer's vaccine.
The source did not name his friend involved in the scheme, but he said he is ready to identify him should authorities ask.
He also told his college friend to stop what he is doing because it is against the law.
“I told him na he should stop kasi this is illegal and unethical. I think the vaccine should go to the people who needed them most,” according to Norman.
While he did not accept the offer, he said he was worried as his classmate could have already sold the vaccine slots to some of his college batchmates.
As of now, the COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the country are currently regulated through an emergency use approval (EUA) issued by the Food and Drug Administration.
Vaccines approved through the EUA, on the other hand, can only be used and procured by the national government.
ABS-CBN News already reached out to the local government of Mandaluyong, but they have yet to respond as of this story's posting.
Vaccinations against COVID-19 are currently limited to priority sectors including health workers, seniors, those with comorbidities and frontline workers in essential sectors as the country's vaccine supply remains limited.
Authorities have taken delivery of some 8.279 million COVID-19 shots, of which at least 3.229 million have been administered, as of May 18.