Philippines President Duterte apologises for taking Chinese Covid vaccine before it has been approved for citizens

·2-min read
<p>In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, is inoculated with China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine by Health Secretary Fracisco Duque III at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on3 May, 2021</p> (AP)

In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, is inoculated with China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine by Health Secretary Fracisco Duque III at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on3 May, 2021

(AP)

The president of the Philippines has apologised for taking the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine before it has been approved for public use.

On Monday, the health secretary of Philippines, Francisco Duque III, administered the Sinopharm vaccine to Rodrigo Duterte and an unspecified number of his guards in secrecy.

Mr Duterte said he told China’s ambassador to take back 1,000 doses of the donated Sinopharm vaccine, saying “that this came under criticism because Sinopharm did not undergo examination so let’s just do away with it. You withdraw all Sinopharm vaccines, 1,000 of them.”

However, those critical of the move said Mr Duterte and the health secretary made a mockery of vaccine regulations while ordinary citizens of the country have struggled with a plethora of pandemic restrictions.

The president claimed his injection did not breach any regulation because it fell under a “compassionate use” exemption.

Mr Duterte said, in future, China should only send Sinovac vaccines - a separate Chinese vaccine which is in use in the Philippines, reported BBC News.

According to the local media reports, the president said: “Don’t follow my footsteps. It’s dangerous because there are no studies, it might not be good for the body. Just let me be the sole person to receive it.”

He also accepted the criticism for using the unapproved vaccine, saying: “We are sorry. You are right.”

It is not clear why Mr Duterte did not take any of the two vaccines which have been approved for emergency use.

At present, the Philippines has only approved Sinovac and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine. They are being given to frontline workers and vulnerable groups.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Philippines has recorded 1.07 million cases and 17,800 deaths. It is considered one of the worst-hit countries by Covid-19 in the Southeast Asian region.

Additional reporting by agencies

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