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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Francisco Duque III, Delfin Lorenzana back out of Sinovac jabs, cite FDA recommendation as reason

From wanting to be the first in line to inspire confidence in the vaccine, the elderly trio of government officials [now] pointed to their age as a limiter.

The formerly considered a bold statement has become the perfect case of irony as President Rodrigo Duterte backs out of receiving shots from favored Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

Duterte would proclaim this as he was moving to receive a 600,000-dose shipment of CoronaVac from the Chinese government on Sunday, February 28.

He cited his age as the main factor in refusing to take Sinovac’s famed yet controversial COVID-19 vaccine. He opted to defer. His statement led to a deluge of comments from Netizens. They thought that Duterte would be first in line once Sinovac vials made it to Philippine shores.

A doctor even pointed out how the FDA’s recommendation suddenly became an excuse for Duterte instead of merely insisting he preferred one vaccine over another.

The same doctor would call out Duterte for not stepping up to the plate even as other global leaders took the shot—including two from neighboring countries–Indonesia and Hong Kong: Indonesian President Joko Widodo (59) and Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam (63).

As if to add insult to injury, two of Duterte’s most trusted secretaries have also backed out of CoronaVac shots: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Both of them also used their age as their reason for not taking the vaccine.

Messed-up internal comms anew?

Government officials who were supposed to receive the vaccine included: vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., Metro Manila Development Authority chief Benhur Abalos, National Task Force Deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director-general Eric Domingo.

Galvez, Abalos, and Domingo would get their shots during the ceremonial inoculations held at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. Dizon would get it from the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial or TALA Hospital in Caloocan City. Inter-Agency Task Force consultant Edsel Salvana would also be among those who would receive the vaccine, as well as the directors of both PGH and TALA.

Duque backing off due to age would have been okay for government communications—until Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted Duque received a dose of CoronaVac during the vaccine’s rollout earlier today.

The Department of Health would deny Roque’s claim, citing the FDA’s earlier recommendation.

Roque would commit a second media gaffe in the same briefing, boldly claiming that Sinopharm has just applied for an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA.

Domingo replied in kind to Roque’s claim, saying the FDA is not aware of any EUAs, filed by the Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical.

In an interview with state-run PTV, Domingo said the FDA has yet to receive an application from Sinopharm on Friday, February 26.

He also said that while they could have filed over the weekend, he insisted they have not evaluated any applications from Sinopharm.

Domingo added that FDA’s head office in Muntinlupa City is closed on March 1 due to the city’s founding anniversary, which is a public holiday.

Sinopharm is Duterte’s preferred COVID-19 vaccine maker and the same pharmaceutical company where his security detail got their illegal vaccine shots from October 2020.

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