Leachon shrugs off Duterte’s curses, wants explanation on China vaccine’s efficacy, safety
MANILA, Philippines — If it is true that President Rodrigo Duterte had cursed him several times, former adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 Dr. Anthony Leachon on Tuesday said he accepts it but maintains that an explanation is needed as to why the country prefers the vaccine from China with questions still hanging on its efficacy.
“If ever those statements by Secretary Harry Roque is true, then we just have to accept it, because I think the questions basically would really beg some explanations in terms of the efficacy as well as the safety data considering that the Chinese vaccine has not received any emergency use authorization, not even FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval to warrant the ordering of that particular volume of stock that will start in March,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
Leachon was reacting to the statement of Roque, who is the presidential spokesperson, that Duterte was not fond of the criticism from Leachon on the government’s response to the pandemic. Roque also said that the doctor had been repeatedly cursed by the President in his speeches but was only edited out in aired videos.
Roque made the statement when asked about Leachon’s comment on the government’s plan to purchase 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China’s Sinovac even if it is yet to show its safety and efficacy after human trials.
But according to Leachon, a Cabinet official whom he did not name told him that Roque’s statement was only made up.
“According to one Cabinet official yesterday who texted me and want to maintain anonymity, is that there has been no discussion on the cursing regarding certain statements made by me and sabi ay gawa-gawa lang daw ‘yun (and that it was only made up),” he said.
He noted he was even invited to the Office of the President for advice even when he was already “removed” from the NTF.
Leachon, however, said he was only questioning the efficacy rate of the vaccine from China.
“Basically that is the premise of the situation why I was questioning the efficacy rate considering that particular drug was restarted in mass vaccination in China when the vaccine has not finished phase 3 trials,” he explained.
“These are the questions we need to understand rather than answer that using ad hominem attacks that would be unfair to my personality, because I was just asking a fair, scientific question in order to gain the confidence of the people in terms of their acceptance of vaccination,” he added.
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