President Rodrigo R. Duterte is yet to be fully vaccinated, his spokesman clarified on Friday night, after it had been earlier announced that the president had received his second jab against COVID-19.
Palace spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. issued the clarification hours after he had said that Presidential Security Guard (PSG) Chief Jesus Dureza was correct when he told the state-run People’s Television Network that Mr. Duterte had already received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinopharm.
Mr. Durante “was mistakenly informed by his medical staff that a second dose was already administered to the President,” Mr. Roque said in a statement. Mr. Dureza has apologized for his pronouncement, he added.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Durante said the President had been inoculated with the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine two weeks after he got his first shot on May 3.
Mr. Roque initially concurred with Mr. Durante’s claim, saying he “has personal knowledge of the second shot.”
Authorities had earlier said that the first dose received by the 76-year-old President on May 3 came from a batch of 1,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine that Beijing had donated to the Philippines. At that time, the donated Sinopharm vaccines had not yet been allowed for emergency use in the country. After a public outcry over his vaccination with an unauthorized vaccine, Mr. Duterte said he was giving the unused shots back to China.
The World Health Organization recommends an interval of three to four weeks between the first and second dose.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use on June 7, weeks after the President received his first dose.
The use of Sinopharm has been controversial since last year when the president announced that the PSG had been vaccinated with smuggled Sinopharm vaccine. The FDA has been trying to investigate the smuggling, but has faced a “blank wall.” — Kyle Aristophere Atienza