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Gov’t to public: COVID-19 vaccines not to be sold

/ 04:29 PM May 22, 2021
Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021

FILE PHOTO: Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — The national government has reminded the public that COVID-19 vaccines are not to be sold and are to be distributed free of charge, amid reports that the vaccines and vaccination priority slots are being sold.

In a statement on Saturday, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said that selling vaccines or slots are not allowed and punishable by law, especially as the vaccines were procured through an emergency use authorization (EUA) — which means that the vaccines are not intended for commercial use.

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“We would like to remind everyone that anti-COVID vaccines are FREE for all qualified citizens. They are not for sale. Thus, the selling of vaccines or of the priority slots is deemed illegal and punishable by law,” the task force said.

“All the vaccines procured by the national government and are currently being administered have only been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). They are not for commercial distribution. Likewise, the priority slots are strictly intended for the A1, A2, and A3 priority groups only,” it added.

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Reports of COVID-19 vaccines and slots being sold clandestinely surfaced this week, with authorities vowing to investigate such issues.

Currently, vaccination is only allowed for those under the A1, A2, A3, and A4 categories.  Included in the A1 or top priority are frontline health workers, while the A2 category is for senior citizens.

The A3 category is for those who have comorbidities that are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infections, while included in the A4 category are other frontline workers, with the recent inclusion of economic frontliners.

The price of each vaccine shot offered for sale depends on the vaccine brand. For the China-made Sinovac, it is from P6,000 to P8,000 for two doses.  Meanwhile, the vaccine made by Pfizer and the British-Swede AstraZeneca brand is from P10,000 to P12,000 per slot.

If the reports of vaccines being sold are true, the prices being asked for the shots are beyond the published prices. During the procurement stage, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said each Sinovac dose would not be more than P700.

READ: Gov’t to probe LGU-linked online selling of jab slots

READ: ‘Hindi tataas ng P700:’ Galvez disputes ‘very erroneous’ report on Sinovac vaccine price

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The NTF said it lauds local governments who have taken the initiative to investigate the issue while prodding other local executives to check on the matter.

“It is our hope that these local leaders will serve as an example to their counterparts throughout the country, and encourage them to take decisive action when the health and welfare of their constituents are at stake,” the NTF said.

“And for those who are engaged in the unauthorized sale of anti-COVID vaccines, we ask you to stop what you are doing. The long arm of the law will soon catch up on you,” it added.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar also said on Saturday that he has ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) to investigate and focus on the alleged selling of vaccination slots and vaccines.

“Inatasan ko na ang ating CIDG at ACG na gawing espesyal ang pag-iimbestiga sa mga kasong ito upang matiyak na hindi na pamarisan at ‘wag nang lumala ito,” Eleazar said in a video statement.

(I have tasked the CIDG and the ACG to classify investigations on these cases as special, to ensure that these incidents are no longer replicated and worsened.)

“Ang mga bakuna ay donasyon, at binili ng ating pamahalaan para ibigay nang libre sa ating mga kababayan.  Ibayong hirap ang pinagdaanan natin para makakuha tayo ng bakuna laban sa COVID kaya hindi katanggap tanggap na pagkakitaan ito,” he added.

(The vaccines are either from donations or were procured by the government to be given for free for Filipinos.  The government went through a painstaking task to ensure that there would be vaccines against COVID, that is why it is not acceptable for some to earn from this.)

/MUF

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