The Philippines will investigate how unauthorized Covid-19 vaccines were given to President Rodrigo 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, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at a televised briefing Monday.
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, is aiming 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.
The military last week confirmed that soldiers in Duterte’s security team were already inoculated, but didn’t say what vaccines were used and how they were obtained. Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, in a briefing Monday said the president’s security team will face the investigation.