PSG still not cooperating in FDA probe into unauthorized Chinese vaccines

Pia Ranada

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PSG still not cooperating in FDA probe into unauthorized Chinese vaccines

DUTERTE'S GUARDS. In this file photo, President Duterte addresses members of the Presidential Security Group in Malacañang.

File Malacañang photo

This is contrary to Malacañang's assertion that President Duterte's security detail would assist in investigations by executive agencies

The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and health department still face a “blank wall” due to the persistent refusal of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail to provide information about the unregistered vaccines that they had administered to their personnel.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said this in an interview on The Chiefs, aired on Tuesday, February 16.

Sumusulat pa rin si Secretary of Health, sumusulat pa rin kami (The Secretary of Health is writing, we are writing) asking for information and so far it’s been a blank wall,” he said.

It’s been nearly two months since the Presidential Security Group (PSG) confirmed they had had some of their personnel vaccinated with Sinopharm vaccines in September and October last year. The vaccines were supposedly donated by an entity whose identity has never been revealed by the PSG or Malacañang.

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PSG chief Jesus Durante III had been ready to join a Senate probe into the controversy when President Duterte himself barred the PSG from participating in it. But Malacañang clarified that the PSG would still participate in investigations by executive agencies, including, the FDA.

Domingo’s information shows the PSG has yet to cooperate in the FDA probe.

Despite this, the FDA and the Bureau of Customs have been checking goods that arrived in September and October in order to get “leads.”

“But you know, I don’t have any useful information. I’m not getting any useful information,” said Domingo.

Needed for vaccine monitoring

The FDA and DOH need, at the very least, a list of names of PSG personnel who were given the vaccine shots so they can monitor for side effects. Such surveillance is necessary to assess the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, which could impact the entire country’s vaccination program.

Domingo said the PSG would still have to be held accountable for bringing in vaccines that are unregistered and not yet approved by the FDA, an act tantamount to the crime of smuggling.

“They do have liabilities for that,” said the FDA chief.

Durante and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have not responded to Rappler’s query on when they plan to provide the necessary information to the FDA and the DOH.

The FDA has granted the PSG a compassionate use permit for a one-time donation of 10,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses. Domingo had previously told reporters that this permit would not retroactively cover the PSG vaccinations in 2020. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.