Authorities warn public vs buying unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines

Authorities warn public vs buying unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines
In this file photo taken on February 02, 2021 A health worker holds a vial with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine against the novel coronavirus at the vaccination center in Freising, southern Germany, on February 2, 2021
AFP / Christof Stache

MANILA, Philippines — Government agencies cautioned the public against individuals and institutions claiming to sell unregistered coronavirus vaccines as no COVID-19 jab has been approved for general use yet.

In a briefing Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the public should only receive COVID-19 vaccines through the government’s immunization program.

“It’s only through national government that you can get these vaccines that are forthcoming,” Vergeire said.

READ: Palace justifies soldiers getting jabs of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine

Government officials said the target is to give shots to at least 50 million Filipinos this year alone. But this largely depends on the global supply of the coveted products, most of which have already been procured by other nations.

Authorities are anticipating the arrival of an initial batch of 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the COVAX facility this month. These limited shots will benefit health workers.


The Department of Health, the National Task Force against COVID-19 and the country’s Food and Drug Administration also issued an advisory late Tuesday following reports on the unauthorized sale of unregistered COVID-19 shots.

The distribution, marketing and sale of any unregistered COVID-19 vaccine in the country is currently prohibited. The law, however, stops short of penalizing people who receive unauthorized inoculation.

“The safety and quality of vaccines purchased unlawfully cannot be guaranteed as these may be counterfeit or have not been transported in the right temperature (cold chain),” the three agencies said.

“The public is reminded that counterfeit or spoiled vaccines may result in serious harm or injury, even death,” they added.

READ: Año: Only one Cabinet member vaccinated with donated unauthorized vaccine

Only vaccines approved for emergency use will be rolled out in the country’s inoculation campaign. So far, only Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca have been granted EUA by the Philippine FDA.

The grant of an EUA is not equivalent to a product registration or market authorization, which means that such products may not be marketed or sold.

The national government leads the procurement of vaccines although tripartite agreements can be entered into by private firms and local government units. They are authorized to provide vaccines in accordance with the existing COVID-19 vaccination prioritization framework. 

The government was previously criticized for the secret and unauthorized COVID-19 vaccination of the Presidential Security Group, a move that caught health officials surprised and left the public enraged. At least one member of the Duterte Cabinet was also vaccinated ahead of the rest of the nation, although that official was never named. — Gaea Katreena Cabico



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