President Rodrigo Duterte received the Sinopharm-made vaccine against COVID-19 on Monday night, a video shared by his former longtime aide showed.
Duterte took the coronavirus vaccine on his left arm as administered by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Senator Christopher Go shared in a Facebook video.
“Pumayag dok nya (His doctor allowed it),” Go said in a text message to reporters, referring to the jab developed by the Chinese state firm.
Sinopharm does not have an emergency use authorization from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration, only a compassionate use permit.
The 76-year-old Duterte, who has underlying health issues, belongs to the groups vulnerable to developing severe symptoms of the respiratory disease.
‘Avail vaccine overseas’
Malacanang urged overseas Filipino workers to avail themselves of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country where they are working, if this option was available.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the call after several countries were likely to require the workforce in their jurisdictions to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Roque said: “We encourage the OFWs to get their COVID-19 vaccine in the country where they work because vaccination covers everybody as far as we know.
“We are not safe until everyone is safe ‘no, ‘that is the motto worldwide.”
The Philippines has only 3,540,600 doses of COVID-19 supply thus far.
Of this number, 1,562,815 individuals already got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 246,986 people already completed their two doses of the COVID-19 jab.
At the same time, Malacanang has asked the Hong Kong government not to single out Filipino workers in its plan to make the vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory.
Roque made the statement after Hong Kong announced plans to require all 370,000 domestic workers to get vaccinated as a requirement for the renewal of their work contracts.
The Hong Kong government has ordered all helpers in the city to get tested before May 9, after two domestic workers were found to be infected with mutated strains.
“While the Philippines recognizes Hong Kong’s sovereign prerogative to set employment requirements but hoped that Filipinos will not be discriminated against because of it. I wish they won’t single out OFWs,” Roque said.
Roque pointed out that even in the Philippines, vaccination could be required as part of the exercise of the police power of the State, however, he said this should be applied to all.
The Palace official likewise said that the Equal Protection Clause was not just a provision of the Philippine Bill of Rights, but is also accepted already in the International Covenant and Civil and Political Rights which also applies to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong labor secretary Law Chi-kwong defended linking domestic worker visas to vaccination.
“Of course they can choose not to work in Hong Kong as they are not Hong Kong residents,” Law added.
Concerned over the slow arrival in the country of anti-COVID vaccines from the United States, Senator Manny Pacquiao disclosed he wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden to expedite the delivery of vaccines to the Philippines.
Asked about the response of Biden to his letter, Pacquiao said no direct response yet. He said some Filipino-Americans who were connected to the White House were helping him with his letter to Biden.
Pacquiao said he was still trying to get direct communication to Biden. “It is still being worked out,” he told the media in a Zoom interview.
The US Ambassador to the Philippines John Law acknowledged the senator’s letter to Biden, but did not make any promises in terms of the request.
The government is still waiting for the submission of regulatory requirements from India’s Bharat Biotech before its COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, would be delivered to the Philippines, Philippine Ambassador to India Ramon Bagatsing Jr. said.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Bagatsing said the Philippine Food and Drug Administration was requiring one document from the Indian vaccine manufacturer for the “full approval” of the vaccine. He did not elaborate about the kind of document.
Bagatsing added the Department of Finance was also requiring documents from Bharat Biotech for the “review of its pricing scheme.”
The country has secured about 8 million doses of Covaxin, which already received emergency use authorization from the FDA. Bagatsing previously said the vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of 92% to 95 percent, may be delivered by the end of May.
Sputnik V in Manila
The government has started distributing to local government units doses of Sputnik V coronavirus disease vaccines following the arrival of 15,000 initial doses from Russia last Saturday.
The LGU beneficiaries of the vaccines produced by Gamaleya Research Institute were cities of Taguig (Lakeshore Vaccination Hub), Makati (Makati Coliseum), Manila (Ospital ng Maynila and Sta. Ana Hospital), Muntinlupa (Ospital ng Muntinlupa and Asian Hospital and Medical Center), and Paranaque (Ayala Mall Manila Bay).
The five LGUs were chosen to be the first to get the vaccines because their cities have the cold storage facilities required for the vaccines, which need to be stored at -18 degrees Celsius.
“We will look at their experience and improve what needs to be improved,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan received on Monday 3,000 doses of Sputnik (Gamaleya), a Russian brand of anti-COVID-19 vaccine, with a call for those belonging to the A1 category composed of doctors, nurses and other health frontliners who have not gotten vaccinated, to get inoculated.
Domagoso said the city government would distribute the vaccines as soon as it gets the go signal from the Department of Health (DOH), as he thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. for the vaccine allotment given to Manila.
Manila Health Department Acting City Health Officer Dr. Arnold Pangan and Sta. Ana Hospital Director Dr. Grace Padilla were also present during the turnover, and immediately effected the transfer of the said doses in the designated storage facility located right within the hospital.
Doses to provinces
The Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) delivered another batch of coronavirus disease vaccines to the Visayas and Mindanao.
CEB flew more than”¯236,000 doses “¯to”¯ five cities, specifically to Tuguegarao and Legazpi on Friday (April 30), and to Tacloban, Zamboanga, and Cotabato on Saturday (May 1).
This shipment comprised 41,600 doses for Tuguegarao, 67,200 doses for Legazpi, 73,600 for Tacloban, 25,600 for Zamboanga, and 28,800 for Cotabato.
On April 29, CEB flew half a million vaccine doses from Beijing to Manila, in coordination with the Department of Health.
Since March 2021 up to the present, CEB has flown more than 500,000 COVID 19 vaccine doses from Manila to various provinces across the archipelago.