MANILA — House Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela representative Weslie Gatchalian has issued a warning to the public about “an influx of unscrupulous individuals selling unregistered or, worse, fake vaccines” with the expected arrival of Covid-19 vaccines before the end of the month.
“We call on all cybercrime agencies of the Government to be on the lookout for illegal and unregistered Covid-19 vaccines and pool their resources to apprehend opportunists who prey on the public,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
Meanwhile, doctors from the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against Covid-19 (HPAAC) appealed to the citizenry to stay with the national Government’s priority list, which has health workers, the elderly, and people with co-morbidities at the top.
Private companies are most likely to fall on the bottom tier or with the rest of the population, even if a private initiative has secured 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through private donors and local governments (LGUs).
Half of this supply shall go to the national Government for its distribution.
HPAAC’s Dr. Aileen Espina called on the public to watch out for people who would jump the line to get shots.
“It is our duty and our responsibility to call out anyone who is cutting the line, to call out anyone who is not following the prioritization program of the Government,” Espina said.
The vaccination program must be done according to the need and not the “capacity to pay” to ensure equitable distribution, HPAAC said.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire added that the Government’s priority list would be strictly followed.
“Nobody can jump the line because it is the national government that will give the authority if you can receive your doses already. We will inoculate first the priority sectors of the population,” Vergeire said in conclusion.
Amidst the rush for the expected vaccine rollout, before the month ends, government authorities are warning against illegally sourced or counterfeit drugs that may be sold to the public by unscrupulous groups or individuals who want to take advantage of the situation.
HPAAC’s Dr. Antonio Dans cautioned people that the sale of Covid-19 vaccines outside the Government inoculation program feeds on the fear of not enough supplies arriving.
The illegal sale of vaccines has recently emerged in online chat groups, workplaces, and even in neighborhoods across Metro Manila, paving the way for the market to be flooded with counterfeit vaccines that could be more hazardous than beneficial to those who will be inoculated with them.
“I’ve had patients asking me if they should already buy (a vaccine),” Dans disclosed in an online conference.
The talk of vaccines already available raises the question of where these vaccines come from as they are being sold at an average of PhP1,000 without indication if this is per dose or per treatment.
HPAAC, which groups more than 160 health organizations, said this constituted a ‘black market’ or a scam since not a single vaccine had been registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing or commercial distribution. (▪JSM/JuanManila)