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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte ‘drops out’ of prio list for Sinovac shots; netizens believe this confirms he has already been given shots

Did President Rodrigo Duterte confirm what people have been saying all along: that he has already been inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

The priority list seems to have changed for the Philippine government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan as President Rodrigo Duterte has taken himself off of the priority list.

In what seems to be a supposed re-statement of the vaccine plan, Duterte reiterated that health care workers will be first in line for the vaccine—despite the fact that the Presidential Security Group and possibly other high-ranking military officials have already taken a vaccine that was reportedly smuggled into the country.

During a press briefing, Duterte said after frontline health workers, teachers and social workers will come next.

After social workers are other government workers and essential workers outside of the health, education, and social welfare sectors who often come in direct contact with people.

Socio-demographic groups will come last, like OFWs, the rest of the working class, and then the rest of the Filipino people.

Soldiers will also be included in the list, but the poor will come first according to Duterte.

This list, however, has been disputed by netizens and raised the possibility that Duterte has already been inoculated despite claims by cabinet secretaries—including presidential spokesperson Harry Roque—that he hasn’t.

A statement from Philippine Army spokesperson Demy Zagala confirms this, according to Karapatan’s public information officer Philip Jamilla.

Duterte’s stern warning to the rest of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and anyone else looking to investigate his close-in security group during the first week of January is also a telling sign.

One netizen has even immortalized Duterte’s single question that may have sealed off any alibis of him not being prioritized over everyone else: former senator Sonny Trillanes IV.

Roque, however, insisted that it’s not a far-fetched thought for Duterte to be vaccinated first—or at least in public—to “reassure the public” that Sinovac’s CoronaVax is safe.

Assurance from Duterte? ‘No, thank you’ said netizens

On Wednesday, January 13, Duterte openly mocked experts and critics saying Sinovac isn’t the best pharmaceutical company to rely on for COVID-19 vaccine, saying “scientists all studied the same microbes.”

The Philippine Daily Inquirer would lead netizens in railing the president, as Sinovac’s vaccine had the lowest efficacy of all available COVID-19 vaccines.

And netizens would get onboard.

Some would even give him a brief lecture on not just microbiology but also word choice.

Finally, human rights advocate Frank Baraan IV would point out the obvious: Sinovac’s CoronaVax is still more expensive than the world-leading Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

This, even as one netizen would diss the numbers and claim the government bought it for a lower-than-market price.

The problem, of course, is that regardless of how much the government saved on CoronaVax—or any other vaccine for that matter—the fact that the government has placed serious trust in the questionable vaccine is what is putting off Filipinos from getting it in the first place.

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