Roque’s blooper: Pfizer as maker of Dengvaxia

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IN what appears to be another blooper, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque mistook Pfizer biopharmaceutical firm as the manufacturer of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccines, to which he blamed difficulties hounding government efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

In a morning program aired on the state-run PTV television network, Roque specifically blamed the Dengvaxia experience behind the stringent requirement imposed by COVID-19 vaccine makers pushing for indemnity agreement due before any procurement deal shall have been signed and finalized.

“Alam niyo po talagang ang sinabi sa atin ng COVAX facility eh darating yung kanilang Pfizer eh dapat sa gitna ng Pebrero. Pero naantala nga po bakit? Tapatan na po, ang Pfizer ang siya ring gumawa ng Dengvaxia na bakuna na naging dahilan kung bakit nakasuhan hindi lang ang mga opisyales ng gobyerno kundi opisyales ng Pfizer,” Roque said.

The Palace mouthpiece is apparently referring to the 117,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech under COVAX facility that he said should have arrived in the middle of February.

His blunder however was immediately corrected.

“Lilinawin ko, mukhang mali ang sinabi ko kanina. Ang manufacturer ng dengvaxia ay Sanofi hindi Pfizer. Pero alam nyo po puro Europeans yan naguusap-usap po yan. Kaya nga po parang naging mas maingat ang Pfizer bilang isang kapwa European manufacturer ng Sanofi pagdating sa pagsusuplay ng EUA,” Roque added.

For the second time, Roque erred as Pfizer is not a European firm but based and operating in the United States.

He explained that Pfizer does not want to be dragged in a legal tussle the way Sanofi biopharmaceutical firm corporate executives were subjected.  

“Kaya humihingi sila ng indemnity agreement dahil ang kanilang bakuna ay covered ng EUA (emergency use authorization), at hindi pa ng general use authorization. Gumalaw naman po ang ating pamahalaan, ang Kongreso ay bumubuo ng isang batas na nagsasabi na gobyerno na ang magbabayad ng danyos para sa lahat ng magkakaroon ng side effects. Na-certify naman ito kahapon as urgent ng ating Presidente, kaya inaasahan n ating magiging batas ito,” he noted.

The Dengvaxia controversy started in November 2017 when Sanofi-Pasteur announced that their vaccine posed a risk to those who were not infected by dengue prior to being injected with the vaccine. The announcement however came after the vaccine had been administered to over 700,000 children and even policemen.

At least 100 vaccinated individuals have died of unconfirmed causes after receiving Dengvaxia doses, and health officials have ruled that that death cannot be directly linked to the vaccine.

In effect, Sanofi returned P1.16 billion to the Department of Health for the unused doses of vaccine.

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