FDA warns unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine distributors of possible cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 28)— The country's drug regulator on Monday warned distributors of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines they may face charges if caught.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said that while getting inoculated is a "personal choice," the distribution of such vaccines is illegal at this time.

"Accepting an injection, there's nothing that we can do about it, it's a personal choice. But it is illegal to import an unregistered drug, to distribute it, and for a doctor, for a medical practitioner or any health personnel to administer unlicensed drugs in the country," Domingo told The Source.

"So if we do catch any of them, we will be filing cases against them," he added.

Philippine National Police chief PGen Debold Sinas said authorities are preparing to crack down on the reported illegal vaccines in the country, adding he has already spoken to the FDA on how to carry out the plan.

May usapan na po kami sa FDA at ginagawa na namin ng paraan para ma-finalize,” Sinas said in a media briefing also on Monday. “Binabantayan na rin po namin but basically kasi kapag mga ganung aspeto we have to coordinate first with the FDA kung licensed.”

[Translation: We’ve had a talk at the FDA and we’re looking at ways on how to finalize this. We’re also monitoring, but basically, when it comes to these kinds of aspects, we have to coordinate first with the FDA if they are licensed.]

President Rodrigo Duterte said at the weekend "many" people were injected with China's Sinopharm vaccine. His spokesperson Harry Roque, in a media briefing on Monday, confirmed the vaccination of a number of troops.

Domingo earlier said raids were conducted in Makati and Binondo, Manila but noted there were no arrests as yet. He reiterated health experts' call to avoid using these vaccines due to lack of knowledge about their sources.

Meanwhile, he advised supposed recipients of unauthorized vaccines to consult their doctors.

"It's a risk that you have taken, you've had something injected on your arm, in your body. I do not know what it is," Domingo said. "You have to consult your doctor what your next step is gonna be."

In a separate statement issued Monday afternoon, Domingo said, "As of date the FDA has not issued any emergency use authorization to any vaccine for COVID-19. Without the proper authorization, there is no guarantee on the safety, quality and efficacy of said vaccine as the same has not undergone the required technical evaluation by the FDA."

Domingo added they would only approve vaccines that have passed their standards.

"We will concentrate on making sure that only vaccines that pass standards will be made available to the public," he said.