‘Mikey Arroyo got Covovax vaccine,’ says Isabela mayor
MANILA, Philippines – Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo has already been inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine from a manufacturer that has yet to obtain a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization, according to Mayor Charlton Uy of Cabatuan, Isabela.
In a Facebook Live stream, Uy inadvertently said Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had been inoculated with the Covovax vaccine.
Covovax, distributed in the Philippines by Faberco Life Sciences Inc. and its partner Unilab, was developed by the US biotechnology company Novavax and is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
No FDA approval
According to the interim results of Novavax’s clinical trial in January, Covovax is 95.6 percent effective against the dominant form of the SARS-CoV-2. But the vaccine has not been approved by the FDA nor granted emergency use authorization.
Faberco earlier announced that it was talking with several local governments about their inoculation programs and, in the 14-minute video Uy posted on his Facebook account on March 2, the Cabatuan mayor was discussing the town’s inoculation program with other town officials.
“I was with Congressman Mikey Arroyo last night and he mentioned, what was that? Novavax? They say it’s better because it is supposedly 91 percent [effective]. We have to pledge [an amount] because it is supposedly coming already in June,” Uy told the Cabatuan health officer, budget officer, and another employee.
“To me, that seems better because that’s what Mikey said yesterday … He was already injected with. They were already injected with that,” he added.
But Arroyo, in an online message to the Inquirer, said he did not know where Uy “was getting his facts … Anyway those facts are not accurate.” Later, Uy said he did not know when and where Arroyo got the jab.
Arroyo was not the first lawmaker to be questioned about inoculations. Last week, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan was criticized after she admitted having been vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac.
But Tan is a practicing physician included in the priority list set out in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, or Republic Act No. 11525, that President Duterte signed into law on Feb. 26.
In November, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that Sen. Panfilo Lacson and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez had received a jab along, but that was three months before RA 11525. Lacson is also a senior citizen who falls within the priorities of the law.
Nonetheless, Sen. Francis Pangilinan reminded government officials to abide by the law, especially after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the country could lose millions of COVID-19 doses from the global vaccine pool COVAX should the government fail to comply with requirements, particularly on which sectors to inoculate first.
First in line to be vaccinated are health-care workers, senior citizens, people with “comorbidities” or other ailments, workers in essential industries, uniformed personnel, teachers, and indigent people.
—WITH A REPORT FROM DJ YAP INQ
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