President Rodrigo Duterte apologised to the Filipino people after being chastised for receiving an unauthorised COVID-19 vaccine this week, which food and drug regulators had not approved for local emergency use.
In a late-night speech on Wednesday, Duterte said he instructed the Chinese envoy in Manila to return the 1,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine that Beijing had donated to the Philippines. On Monday, the government released photos of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III administering the vaccine to Duterte.
“As a result, we sincerely apologise. You are correct. “We are mistaken,” Duterte stated. “Sinopharm will be gone by tomorrow or the next day.”
“We take full responsibility. On the advice of my doctor, I had already been injected. In any case, it’s my life, “he explained.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese government for “compassionate use,” but not for general population emergency use.
“You withdraw all 1,000 Sinopharm vaccines.” I said just send the Sinovac that everyone is using, “Duterte said, referring to another Chinese-produced vaccine that has been sent to the Philippines in millions of doses.
Duterte stated that he received the Sinopharm shot because his doctors advised him to do so.
Despite Duterte’s order to remove the vaccine, spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday that the president would get his second Sinopharm dose in three to four weeks.
Duterte admitted that opposition politicians, including Senator Leila de Lima, were correct in questioning him about receiving the Sinopharm vaccine.
“Is it too much to ask for our president to follow the law?” de Lima tweeted on Tuesday. “There are other vaccines available, but he had to use the smuggled ones.”
In January, Duterte ordered the suspension of investigations into how members of his bodyguard team received the Sinopharm vaccine in September and October 2020, despite the fact that no vaccine had been approved or procured in the country.
“Congress, please do not tinker with the PSG.” Don’t force my hand, “Duterte said at the time in a nationally televised address, referring to the Presidential Security Group.
He stated that the guards were given the Sinopharm vaccine in order to protect him and themselves from the coronavirus disease.
In his Wednesday evening address, Duterte also directed police to arrest anyone who fails to properly wear their facemasks during the pandemic.
“My orders to the police are to those who are not properly wearing their masks in order to protect the public…” Arrest and detain them, and investigate why they are doing it, “Duterte said.
“Nothing will happen unless I tighten the rules.” I’m having a difficult time here, “he admitted. “Despite the fact that our funds are running low, you continue to act recklessly. You’ll end up at the police station. ”
Sinovac, a Chinese company, has a contract with the government to supply vaccines. According to Philippine health officials, it has delivered 3.5 million doses and another 1.5 million are expected this week.
According to officials, the total number of vaccine doses delivered to the Philippines is slightly more than 4 million, with roughly half of them administered.
In addition to the 3.5 million Sinovac doses, the Philippines received 525,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility, as well as 15,000 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.
The health department reported 6,637 new COVID-19 infections and 191 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections and deaths to more than 1 million since the pandemic began.
On April 27, the government issued a travel ban to India, the origin of a highly contagious strain of COVID-19. The health department reported in a news release on Thursday that five people who travelled from India in April tested positive for COVID-19, but made no mention of the variant.
The strain, known as the B.1.617 Variant, was first identified in October and has resulted in a massive increase in cases in India in recent weeks.
According to disease experts at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, India has recorded more than 21 million infections – second only to the United States – and more than 230,000 deaths. More than 400,000 new infections were recorded in South Asia’s largest country in the previous day.