President Rodrigo Duterte slammed Vice President Leni Robredo late Monday over her remarks that health care workers deserve the “best” Covid-19 vaccine, saying she keeps on making “idiotic” remarks to make herself relevant.
Seething at Robredo’s insinuation that his administration has brought in from China an inferior jab, the President said he’s ready to give Robredo money so she can “get a basket” and purchase the coronavirus vaccines herself.
“If you know how to listen, there are no vaccines available today. Either you ask, steal or pay (for them),” Mr. Duterte said.
He bristled at Robredo’s imputation that he has already been vaccinated. “You have a devilish mind so your suspicion is that I’m already through (getting the shot),” he said.
Robredo has backed the call made by some doctors to have the China-made vaccine undergo an evaluation by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) before administering it to health workers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the CoronaVac jab, but noted it is not recommended for medical workers exposed to Covid-19 patients.
The FDA cited as reason the vaccine’s relatively low efficacy rate of 50.4 percent. In a separate advisory, the HTAC said it has not yet issued any recommendation on the use of CoronaVac and is still “awaiting more data” needed to complete its assessment.
Duterte blasted Robredo for making it appear that HTAC’s recommendation is mandatory before a vaccine can be used.
The President’s spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque, maintained that HTAC’s go signal is not needed, as stated under the Universal Health Care Law, which he authored during the 17th Congress.
Nonetheless, Mr. Duterte said the government respects the choice of vaccines by health care workers, saying they should “just wait” for their preferred shots.
He acknowledged that some medical professionals may prefer vaccines developed by AstraZeneca, as well as those made by Johnson&Johnson and Moderna.
“Some doctors are not keen on Sinovac. That is their right,” Duterte said. Government officials have assured the public that Sinovac shots are effective and safe and 100-percent efficacious in preventing severe Covid-19 cases.
Hungary has also secured five million doses of China-made jabs, with Indonesia also expressing intent to procure the “halal-certified” vaccines,” said Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez.
Other countries like Senegal, Pakistan and Senegal have also ordered the Chinese vaccines, Galvez added. Locally, the St. Luke’s Medical Center has asked the government for at least 5,000 doses of CoronaVac for its healthcare workers, he added.