HEALTH officials on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, said the people who imported and distributed the unregistered Sinopharm vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will face sanctions.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the sale, distribution or supply of a product that is not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violate Republic Act 9711.
"Those who brought in this vaccine, those who have supplied or distributed, and even the manufacturer may be sanctioned if they are used by our population without the proper processing by our regulatory agency, which is FDA,” Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.
Asked whether President Rodrigo Duterte or the AFP leadership could be held liable, Vergeire and FDA Director General Enrique Domingo refused to speculate.
"We don't know if the President was really the one that gave the order to vaccinate them. We are still waiting for the full details. We still have no information on what tranpired," Vergeire said.
"Until I get more data, I do not want to speculate on any liabilities. I want to see the details first," said Domingo.
The FDA has not issued any Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of a vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the Philippines.
However, many citizens and soldiers have been inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine, President Duterte said during a meeting with Cabinet members and infectious diseases specialists on December 26.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines later confirmed that members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were among those who received the vaccine.
Domingo earlier said he has ordered an investigation to determine the source of the vaccine.
"Our investigation, we are zeroing in on the importation and distribution of these unregistered vaccines," said Domingo.
"In this case, nothing passed through us, we had no information about it," he added.
Section 11 of RA 9711 prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded.
Sinopharm refers to the state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation.
Meanwhile, Vergeire and Domingo advised those who received the unregistered vaccines to closely monitor their health and be on the lookout for adverse effects.
"We advise them that, if ever there are adverse effects, we have an existing protocol for such events," said Vergeire.
"They have to immediately consult with their doctors or they can go to the hospital and these hospitals would know how to manage that," Domingo added. (HDT / SunStar Philippines)