VACCINE czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has warned the public against the illegal selling of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) doses, saying this does not only hamper the government’s vaccination rollout, but also “puts our countrymen in danger.”
Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF), stressed that the selling Covid-19 vaccines was illegal because these were not cleared for commercial use.
“The Philippine government strongly condemns the illegal selling of any Covid-19 vaccines, which was witnessed by operatives of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). As the National Task Force Against Covid-19 emphasized, these anti-Covid vaccines have only been given an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by our Food and Drug Administration and therefore cannot be commercially sold,” Galvez said in a statement.
“We believe this type of unscrupulous activity does not only hamper the efficient and effective rollout of our national vaccination program, but also puts our countrymen in danger with the selling and eventual use of unverified anti-Covid 19 vaccines,” he added.
Galvez made the statement following the arrest of three individuals for allegedly selling 300 doses of the CoronaVac vaccine made by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech.
The three individuals, including a nurse, were arrested in an entrapment operation in Quezon City by operatives of the NBI.
The NBI said the suspects were selling the vaccines to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator employees, who are mostly Chinese.
Galvez said the NTF was “taking this matter seriously” and “would ensure that a thorough investigation on the matter is conducted, and those involved will be penalized under RA (Republic Act) 11525 (or the) Covid- 19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.”
He said authorities have identified vaccine lot numbers and were conducting follow-up operations to arrest violators.
“We thank the leadership of the Department of the Justice led by Secretary Mernardo Guevarra and the NBI for taking swift action on the matter,” he added.
The vaccine czar encouraged the public “to report these kinds of illicit activities so that we bring to justice those who are involved.”
“The national government’s mission is to provide safe, effective, and free vaccines to all Filipinos so that they can have an additional layer of protection against the disease and we can bring back a greater sense of normalcy to our country,” he said.
The country’s FDA has granted EUA for the vaccine candidates of Pfizer, Sinovac, Gamaleya Institute, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Bharat Biotech, and Moderna, as well as for the donated 1,000 doses of Sinopharm intended for the Presidential Security Group.
Since February, the country has received a total of 17,455,470 doses of anti-Covid vaccines from five manufacturers.
In July, more than 13 million doses are expected to arrive in the country including doses procured by the private sector from Astrazeneca.
Of this figure, around two million doses are donations from the United States and Japanese governments.
The Philippines has already administered about 10,065,414 doses of Covid-19 vaccine since the rollout on March 1.
Of this number, 7,538,128 individuals received their first dose, while 2,527,286 have been fully vaccinated.