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Gov’t asked to guard vs fake COVID vaccines

A HOUSE leader on Sunday urged authorities to prepare for a possible proliferation of counterfeit coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) shots amid the limited supply of genuine vaccines.

Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said guarding against fake vaccines is part of the government’s duty to ensure public health and safety.

“As we await the arrival of the much-awaited COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring that vaccines are authentic could emerge as an important issue,” Herrera said.

Herrera warned that counterfeiters could capitalize on the opportunity given what she called “mismatch of COVID-19 vaccine supply and demand.”

“Alam naman po natin na kapag may kakulangan sa supply, asahan natin na maglilipana ang mga mapagsamantala at mga pekeng produkto na sa pagkakataong ito ay bakuna laban sa COVID-19,” Herrera pointed out.

She reminded that selling counterfeit vaccines is a criminal activity that poses serious risks to public health and safety.

“We have to remember that counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines may pose serious health risks, and are ineffective at protecting an individual from the virus,” she added.

At the same time, the House leader urged the Department of Health(DoH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the availability of affordable, safe and effective vaccines for Filipinos.

The party-list lawmaker also called for proper distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they become available in the country.

“Proper distribution means we have to follow the guidelines on which area and sectors that will be given COVID-19 shots first,” Herrera pointed out.

The government earlier announced nearly 25 million Filipinos composed of frontline health workers, senior citizens, the poor and uniformed personnel will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

It added that areas with the highest number of COVID-19 cases will be a priority for the mass immunization program that is expected to happen within the first half of 2021.