By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Yahoo News

Malacañang said Thursday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a compassionate use license for 10,000 coronavirus vaccine doses from China National Pharmaceutical Group as per request by the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

The FDA granted this two months after PSG Commander Brigadier General Jesus Durante III admitted that his personnel got inoculated using an unauthorized vaccine that are donated by unidentified donor.

Durante’s pronouncement was made after President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed in mid-December that many Filipinos already vaccinated against the disease, including soldiers.


However, FDA, said it did not authorize any vaccine candidates, kicking the controversy to a legislative probe, with accusations of breaking the country’s regulatory rules.

The investigation would have become a part of the Senate Committee of the Whole’s probe into the government’s COVID-19 inoculation program, but Duterte barred Durante from making appearance to the hearings due to executive privilege.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the Presidential Security detail applied for special permit to use Sinopharm jabs as part of commitment of protecting the country’s Chief Executive.

“It is for compassionate use, because the other members of the PSG have to be vaccinated since their job is to provide security to the President,” Roque said in a press briefing.

However, in a message to reporters, FDA Chief Eric Domingo confirmed the grant of special permit. Domingo said Durante’s command applied the permit last January 18.

“The PSG applied and complied with all the requirements,” Domingo said. 

“It was granted on Wednesday,” he added.

Domingo said the Duterte’s security would report the vaccination outcome to the FDA.

He added the permit was for “future use” and covered one-time importation.

According to Roque, he did not know how the PSG would procure the vaccines.

He also announced that the Philippines would receive 600,000 doses of China-donated vaccines on Feb. 23, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel.

He said the date of arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Sinovac Biotech was “set in stone,” and 100,000 doses would go to the Department of National Defense, donated by China to the Philippine military.

The rest would be given to medical staff in Metro Manila hospitals, the top priority group on the government’s vaccination list.

The donated Sinovac shots would be on top of the 25 million doses that the Philippine government would buy from the Chinese drugmaker.

Sinovac Biotech has applied for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine with the FDA.

Should the vaccines arrive before the permit is issued, they will be stored until they are allowed to be used, Roque said.

If a permit is not issued, the vaccines will be sent back to China, he said.

Roque reiterated that President Duterte stood firm on his preference for a Chinese vaccine.

He, however, said he was not at liberty to disclose which Chinese vaccine Mr. Duterte had chosen for himself.

He also said it is uncertain which vaccines from Sinovac or Pfizer would first to arrive in the Philippines.

National Task Force against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said such delays in vaccines was due to process needed to certain documents with the World Health Organization (WHO) and COVAX Facility.

“But we are confident that these would arrive in the coming weeks, within the month of February,” Dizon said.

Dizon said the Department of Health (DOH) is preparing for needed documents.

Once the vaccines are delivered, these will be distributed first to four COVID-19 referral hospitals in Metro Manila—Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Lung Center of the Philippines and East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City, and Dr. Jose Natalio Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center (Tala Hospital) in Caloocan City.

‘First vaccine receivers’

PGH Spokesman Jonas Del Rosario, who recently recovered against COVID-19, will be the first recipient of coronavirus vaccines, according to Director Gerardo Legazpi.

Legazpi also said Del Rosario lost his parents due to the disease.

“It would be better for people to see that the first [to get the vaccine] would be those who offered their strength and intelligence and were affected by COVID severely. It would be a symbolic gesture of the final phase of their fight, their personal fight, against COVID,” Legaspi said.

He said the personnel working in COVID-19 wards are next in line to receive vaccine doses.

He said 5,134 PGH personnel had registered for vaccination, out of the 6,300 the hospital expected to sign up.

Legaspi said the decision of the rest not to register may be related to their choice of vaccine.

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