Duterte ditches Sinopharm vaccines in favor of Sinovac

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night ordered the withdrawal of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, and asked for more doses from Sinovac.

Sinopharm is a state-owned pharmaceutical firm while Sinovac is a private company.

Despite having received the first dose of the vaccine brand himself, Duterte said he told an “ambassador” that he wanted Sinopharm vaccines pulled out over concerns these have yet to be cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Just before this meeting started, I had a talk with the ambassador.  I told him, ‘Experts are saying it did not go through examinations here. They just gave it compassionate use which is really a legal excuse.’ Compassionate use.  This means you can use it).Compassionate. But, maybe it’s not acceptable to them but it’s legal actually,” he said in a public address partly in Filipino.

Duterte did not identify the ambassador but might have been referring to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

I said you withdraw all Sinopharm vaccines. One thousand of them. Don’t send Sinopharm vaccines here so there’s no issue,” he added partly in Filipino.

Some medical experts, he said, are also concerned over the “dangers” of Sinopharm’s use. A Chinese vaccine expert earlier referred to Sinopharm as the “most unsafe vaccine in the world,” after it was found to produce 73 side effects.

“The fact that there are some concerns that it did not go through examination so that there’s no issue, let’s just pull them out,” he said.

He then asked the envoy to provide Covid-19 vaccines produced by another Chinese drugmaker, Sinovac Biotech: Just give us Sinovac being used by everyone,” Duterte said in Filipino. SOVEREIGNPH

The Philippines has received 3.5 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine, including 1 million doses donated by the Chinese government.

He said removing Sinopharm from the country’s current Covid-19 vaccine supply would not have much of a difference.

“One thousand vaccines lang ‘yan (It’s only a thousand vaccine doses). It would not make a dent sa (in our) supply,” he said.

Malacañang earlier said China donated an additional 1,000 doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines in addition to the 10,000 doses expected to be donated to members of Duterte’s close-in security detail.

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