Philippines Probes Unauthorized Vaccines Given to Soldiers, Chinese Workers
Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ president, speaks at a conference. (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg)

Philippines Probes Unauthorized Vaccines Given to Soldiers, Chinese Workers

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not allow members of his security team to face a congressional probe for their use of an unauthorized vaccine, warning legislators of a “crisis” if they push through with an investigation.

Duterte told his security team to ignore summons from Congress, adding that the soldiers were inoculated to protect him and themselves. “There will be a little crisis. I am prepared to defend my soldiers. I won’t allow them to be brutalized in hearings,” the president said in a televised briefing late Monday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier in the day said his agency will investigate how unauthorized Covid-19 vaccines were given to Duterte’s security team and reportedly to thousands of Chinese workers. The Food and Drug Administration is working with government investigators and customs officials to probe the illegal entry and use of the unregistered vaccines, Duque said at a televised briefing.

Duque was reacting to a media report that around 100,000 Chinese nationals working in the Philippines have been vaccinated as early as November even as regulators have yet to approve any vaccines for use in the Philippines.

The uneven rollout of vaccines around the world is raising concerns about the potential for black markets to emerge. The Philippines, which has the second-highest number of infections in Southeast Asia, aims to secure at least 80 million vaccines from pharmaceuticals including AstraZeneca Plc., Novavax Inc. and Pfizer Inc., with deals expected this month and shipments by the second quarter.

Other Details

  • Vaccines will start arriving as early as March, Duterte said
  • Duterte ordered the state health insurer to defer an increase in members’ monthly contribution

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