Bangkok, May 6 (EFE).- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has apologized for getting inoculated with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, which has not yet been approved by the country’s health authorities, and ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 doses of the vaccine donated by Beijing.
“We are sorry that we committed the things that you are criticizing us for. We accept responsibility. (I got myself vaccinated) it’s the decision of my doctor,” Duterte said in a televised address on Wednesday night, according to state news agency PNA.
This marks a highly unusual admission of guilt and apology for the leader.
Duterte was vaccinated Monday on live television with the Sinopharm jab, which has not received emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.
The administration has approved many other vaccines, including Chinese Sinovac, Russian Gamaleya, Swedish-British AstraZeneca and United States’ Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen.
The leader said in his speech that he had already formally asked the Chinese ambassador in Manila to withdraw the donation of around 1,000 Sinopharm vaccines and not send more doses until they have the administration’s approval.
However, Duterte also tried to justify himself by saying that Sinopharm had been allowed in the Philippines for “compassionate use” which made it legal, also adding that his doctor recommended the antidote because it was being used with good results in countries such as Brazil.
On Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that a second dose of Sinopharm had been reserved so that Duterte could be completely immunized.
The Philippines launched its vaccination campaign on Mar. 1 since then the drive has progressed slowly, with about 2 million people being vaccinated – 1.7 million Filipinos have received the first dose and 320,500 have been administered both doses – out of a population of around 110 million.
The government aims to vaccinate 70 million people by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity in the country, which is witnessing a severe outbreak of the pandemic with over a million recorded infections so far.
In order to meet the target, Manila plans to accelerate the vaccination drive this month after receiving another 4.5 million doses of Sinovac, 2 million doses of Gamaleya, 1.3 million of AstraZeneca and 2.3 million of Pfizer, apart from expecting the delivery of 200,000 Moderna vaccines in June. EFE