PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has apologized for receiving a dose of the Sinopharm vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and asked the Chinese ambassador to withdraw the vaccine.
“So we are sorry. You are right, we are wrong. Ang Sinopharm maybe tomorrow or the following day wala na ‘yan. I made it as a personal request,” Duterte said in another Talk to the People address late Wednesday night, May 5, 2021.
He said his doctor had recommended that he get the Sinopharm vaccine, which was also administered to “all Chinese officials.” Duterte did not name his doctor.
“Sinabi ng doktor Sinopharm because of the record outside of the Philippines na maganda ang ano, and all of the Chinese officials, Sinopharm,” he said.
The Sinopharm vaccine, which was developed by China National Biotec Group subsidiary Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Company Ltd., is not approved for emergency use in the Philippines.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has issued a compassionate special permit for the use of 10,000 doses for the Presidential Security Group (PSG). This was the same vaccine administered to PSG personnel in 2020, back when not even a special permit was issued for its use.
Duterte had himself inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine on Monday evening, May 3, drawing widespread criticism for using a vaccine without an emergency use authorization (EUA).
Malacañang said the inoculation was covered by the compassionate special permit. The vaccine was administered by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
In his address Wednesday night, his second for the week, said he had asked the ambassador to withdraw 1,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.
“So here’s a deal, sinabi ko kay ambassador criticized nila kasi hindi nga dumaan ng examination ‘yong Sinopharm, sabi ko, ‘tanggalin mo na lang. You withdraw all Sinopharm vaccines, 1,000 of them’,” he said..
Duterte said he was sorry, but it’s his life anyway. He also pointed out that the Sinopharm vaccine was used in Brazil and Indonesia.
He did acknowledge the criticism that other Filipinos might follow and urged the public to use the Sinovac vaccine.
“We are sorry that we committed the things that you are criticizing us for. We accept responsibility. At ako mismo nagpaturok, well, it’s the decision of my doctor. Anyway, it’s my life and kung anong ano nila ‘yong.. How would I..? Iyong concerns nila about others following,” he said.
Both the Sinopharm and Sinovac products are inactivated vaccines against Covid-19.
The Sinovac vaccine, called CoronaVac, was granted an EUA in February 2021. As of May 4, the Philippines has received 3.5 million doses of CoronaVac, including one million donated by China. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)