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Netizens award ‘MedRep of the Year’ to DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III for landing 25 million doses of Sinovac

Duque’s persistence on getting Sinovac seems to have earned him some “praise” with netizens.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s 2021 could not have gotten off to a rockier start, unless netizens’ suspicions are true and he is at least getting something out of batting for Sinovac.

Social media recently exploded when Duque announced that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines were on their way to the country this February.

The catch: it was the less-than-stellar and fairly expensive Sinovac.

Duque revealed on Sunday, January 10, that he and the IATF have secured 25 million doses of the Chinese vaccine, with 50,000 doses scheduled to arrive by February and 950,000 more to arrive by March.

Between 2 and 3 million doses will continue arriving every month until the end of 2021.

Duque allayed public concerns on the efficacy—or lack thereof—of Sinovac and told the public to “trust the screening process” being done by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Science and Technology.

“Mayroon tayong nakatakdang proseso, at dapat sundin ‘yan, respetuhin ang DOST (at) ang kanilang vaccine panel. Sila po ang sumusuri ng lahat ng scientific evidence para patunayan na itong mga bakuna ay ligtas, may (sic) dekalidad at epektibo, at kaya na implement, ipatupad,” Duque said when asked about his thoughts on Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine.

This statement had netizens asking: is Duque acting as our health secretary or is he the official medical representative for Sinovac?

Human rights advocate Francis Baraan IV would even call out Duque in his post, asking if he is earning anything from continuously batting for the Chinese vaccine.

Writer Tonyo Cruz even went on Twitter to bring in other officials for the “Sinovac MedRep of the Year” award…

… with Duque “leading the way”.

Duque and the Duterte administration would answer their critics nearly a month ago, though, saying the government isn’t favoring Sinovac over other vaccines.

“The reason we are purchasing [CoronaVac] is we cannot immediately get Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained during a press briefing in mid-December 2020.

Bawal ang choosy? Duque says, “do not worry”

Duque again allay fears of using CoronaVac, Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, when he responded to questions from senators.

In a report from the Manila Bulletin, Duque said the government cannot hastily inoculate Filipinos with any vaccine, saying vaccines have “certain indications.”

“(Kung) nakalagay doon ‘o, hindi ito pwede beyond 18 years old’, hindi po namin ipipilit doon,” Duque said during a Senate inquiry on the government’s vaccination plan.

Duque also assured senators that the government is not placing all of its eggs in the CoronaVac basket, saying they will diversify their vaccine portfolio to “complement depending on the sectors or the prioritized group to be inoculated”.

He adds that this will also make up for individual deficiencies of each of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Outside of acquiring 25 million doses of CoronaVac, the Philippine government has also secured 30 million doses of India’s Covovax, scheduled to arrive by the third quarter of 2021 according to this article from Business Mirror.

Meanwhile, local government units and private companies are placing their bets on the IATF’s ability to procure the sought-after vaccine from AstraZeneca, deemed one of the more effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines available today.

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