DOH warns vs use, selling of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 23) — The Department of Health warned the public and manufacturers on Monday against selling unregistered drugs that have not been cleared as safe and effective by the country's health and regulatory officials, following reports that some lawmakers have already been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Senator Panfilo Lacson and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez were allegedly inoculated with a coronavirus vaccine similar to that of Pfizer's, as relayed by Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III over the weekend.

RELATED: Sotto says Lacson, Romualdez were vaccinated for COVID-19

Following this report, Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that the country's Food and Drug Administration has not yet allowed any COVID-19 vaccine to be used in the country. She said a vaccine can only be used once it is approved by FDA for distribution or if it has been given the go-signal for clinical trial in the country.

No clinical trial has so far been approved by Philippine authorities aside from the WHO Solidarity Trial set to start in December.

"This is not the right way to go. Pinaalalahanan natin ang lahat na mag-ingat tayo. Tayo ay kukuha lang nitong bakunang ito, mag-aaccess lang kapag mayroon nang registered o kaya ay kapag nagumpisa na ang clinical trial natin," she said in a media forum.

[Translation: We remind everyone to be cautious. We can only use the vaccines once the product has been registered or once we have started clinical trials.]

DOH also warned manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of the legal implications of selling unregistered COVID-19 vaccines.

"Mayroong kaukulang sanctions itong mga nagbibigay nito na walang rehistro. Please, antayin matapos ang regulatory procedures natin bago kayo mag-distrubute ng ganitong bakuna because we are now talking about lives of people and public health should be protected," Vergeire said.

[Translation: There are legal sanctions when you administer a vaccine that is not registred. Let us wait for the complete regulatory procedures before you distribute.]

Meanwhile, no special treatment will be given to government officials when it comes to vaccine access. Vergeire said officials can only gain first access if they are part of the elderly or vulnerable group — as stated in the government's priority list.