MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday warned local government officials against demanding that a specific brand of COVID-19 vaccines be exclusively supplied to them.
Duterte, in his weekly Talk to the Nation, said the country does not have enough supply of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer, and thus, it cannot be exclusively given to those who demand it.
"But yung mga tao na would like to demand Pfizer at walang iba, ay hindi pupuwede 'yan. Kasi hindi naman lahat ng dumating sa atin Pfizer. It could have been another story kung ang Pfizer exclusive sa atin dumarating, " he said.
(But those people who would like to demand Pfizer and not other brands, that is not allowed because we did not only receive vaccines from Pfizer.)
A majority of the country's vaccine supply came from China's Sinovac, at about 5.5 million doses. On the other hand, the country has received fewer than 200,000 doses from Pfizer.
According to Duterte, he cannot allow only certain areas in the city to be given the vaccines from Pfizer as it will exclude the rest of the population who also need to be vaccinated.
"If you begin to demand exclusive 'yung Pfizer sa inyo, how about the others? Eh kung ubusin ninyo ang Pfizer para sa inyo lang, wala na ang iba . . . Exclusion of other Filipinos. Kaya hindi ho puwede 'yan. Kailangan talaga i-mixed 'yan, at saka 'yung blind 'yung tao sa anong ibinibigay. Basta may bakuna, period," he said.
(If you demand exclusive Pfizer vaccine supplies, how about the others? If you use it all up, other Filipinos will be excluded. That's why I won't allow that. The supply should be mixed, and people shouldn't know about the brand that is available. As long as there's a vaccine, period.)
Duterte also said being picky with the vaccine brand will encourage others to be picky, too.
"Kung kayo lang ang may gusto tapos 'yung iba hindi mapagbigyan, paano 'yung ibang Filipino? When you begin to be selective, the others will also begin to be agitated about the potency na pareho naman sana sa iba. They will also demand Pfizer. How about the other Filipinos in Visayas and Mindanao? Hindi natin sila mabigyan," he said.
(If you demand it and we don't give in to the demands of others, how about the other Filipinos? When you begin to be selective, the others will also begin to be agitated about the potency that is just the same as others. They will also demand Pfizer. How about the other Filipinos in Visayas and Mindanao? We won't be able to give them anything.)
"Kung sana maraming Pfizer tapos hindi maibigay sa inyo, you have all the reason to complain. But if it is a limited number, tapos gusto ninyo sa inyo lang, hindi puwede 'yan," Duterte added.
(If we have a lot of Pfizer vaccines and we don't give them to you, you have all the reason to complain. But if it is a limited number and you want it all for yourself, then I won't allow that.)
Duterte had ordered local government to refrain from announcing which COVID-19 vaccine brands are used at inoculation sites.
The interior department last week directed all local government units to stop announcing vaccine brands scheduled for distribution at vaccination sites.
Duterte had earlier told the public that they could not choose which vaccine brand they would receive. Duterte had himself chosen China's Sinopharm brand for his own vaccination.
Withholding names of vaccine brands to be used at specific sites has spawned concern that it would violate the medical principle of informed consent, in which health workers educate patients on the risks, benefits and alternatives of a procedure, treatment or drug.
Some also fear that the policy would further erode public trust in the jabs.
As of May 20, the Philippines has received more than 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various manufacturers.
Of this number, more than 4.4 million doses have already been administered as of May 25.