Philippine president’s guards ‘smuggled’ COVID-19 vaccines

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Members of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail “smuggled” an unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine into the country and administered it to themselves, a top defense official said Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said members of the Presidential Security Group had obtained the vaccine without government authorization or his knowledge.

When asked if the vaccine was smuggled into the county, Lorenzana said, “Yes smuggled, because they were not authorized, only the government can authorize.”

No vaccine has been approved by the country’s Food and Drug Administration.

Lorenzana said the unit needs “to explain because they violated FDA rules” but went on to downplay the move.

“It is justified … it will protect them so they will not be infected and at the same time they can protect the president,” Lorenzana said.

PSG head Brigadier General Jesus Durante also defended the guards using the unauthorized vaccine as a decision made in “good faith.”

Durante said the unit could not afford to wait for approval of a coronavirus vaccine.

The president was only informed of the episode afterwards, Durante said.

It’s unclear how the vaccine was obtained or which one was used.

Health minister Francisco Duque said the country’s FDA is investigating.

With Post wires

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