COVID-19 vaccines procured by LGUs should have been approved by gov’t – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminded local government units (LGUs) on Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccine that they have chosen procure should already be approved for use by the government already.
Duterte said in his pre-recorded briefing that he would not interfere should LGUs get vaccines different from what the national government procured, although he clarified that no vaccine was better than the other.
But he explained that all medicine, including vaccines, should undergo government screening to ensure that they would be safe for consumption.
“I’m now addressing the mayors and the governors: You can choose any vaccine you like to buy. We don’t care what you choose. That’s one thing. We won’t meddle in the purchase,” the President said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“But maybe, I don’t know — you know that we have a law that says all medicines of whatever nature and whatever characteristics, would have to go through the scrutiny of the government,” he said.
The administration is procuring COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac Biotech, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, for its national vaccination plan.
The Sinovac vaccines were chosen because they were cheap, according to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementor of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
In contrast, over 30 provinces and cities have already set aside funds to buy vaccines, most of them signing deals with British-Swedish company AstraZeneca.
Malacañang then assured the public that Sinovac vaccines were safe despite a lot of people doubting the effectiveness of vaccines from China, preferring instead those made by American and European companies.
Recently, the administration drew flak after it was revealed that members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were already inoculated with the vaccine as early as September — despite no vaccines having been granted permits at that time.
Malacañang refused to divulge details about the vaccination, saying that PSG personnel showed bravery by allowing themselves to be vaccinated despite questions lingering over the vaccines.
Several officials said that the issue of PSG vaccinations should not be the focus of discussions because the topic should be about how the government could buy vaccines.
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