Public urged to report ‘vaccine scammers’ amid Pfizer jabs on sale at P60K per 50 vials

February 16, 2021 - 3:45 PM
Pfizer vaccine
A medical worker prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Sao Jose Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, January 19, 2021. (Reuters/Pedro Nunes, File)

Appeals were made to report “vaccine scammers” to the authorities after a local chief executive came across a post claiming to sell 50 vials of “Pfizer vaccines” for P60,000.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto shared a post showing pictures of vaccine vials and a box that had the pharmaceutical firm’s name.

He then warned people to refrain from buying such items and reminded them that legitimate vaccines go through the national government, particularly in terms of COVID-19 vaccines which require an emergency authorization use.

“Health care frontliners din po ang mauunang bakunahan,” Sotto added, referencing the COVID-19 vaccine priority list which puts medical frontliners at the first group of people to be inoculated.

A neonatologist-pediatrician saw his post and said that the vaccines were “pneumococcal vaccines” or jabs for immunity against pneumococcal disease.

“I was able to administer this prep of PCV vaccine in the past months,” Twitter user @Simply_Clinton said.

“No, there is no Pfizer COVID vaccine being rolled out in private sector yet. Dahil sa kakulangan ng supply worldwide, hindi pa nagbe-benta sa mga pvt (private) companies or LGUs,” he added.

Another Twitter user commented that the vaccines in the post were “PCV13” or Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines that appeared to be mishandled, based on the picture.

“Mukhang nasa room temp. lang siya naka-store. Bagsak na efficacy,” online user @istrangeerrr said.

The box of the vaccines in the picture was set on a table. What appeared to be a mobile phone could be seen on the right side of the photo.

Sotto acknowledged the Twitter user’s response and hoped that the scammers wouldn’t be able to deceive anyone else with their post.

The mayor then urged the public to report “any vaccine-scammer” to the authorities if they have come across such posts.

The Department of Health, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and the Food and Drug Administration previously issued an advisory following reports on the unauthorized sale of unregistered COVID-19 shots.

The distribution, marketing and sale of any unregistered COVID-19 vaccine in the country is currently prohibited but it stops short in terms of penalizing those who have received unauthorized inoculation.

“The safety and quality of vaccines purchased unlawfully cannot be guaranteed as these may be counterfeit or have not been transported in the right temperature (cold chain),” the three agencies said this month.

“The public is reminded that counterfeit or spoiled vaccines may result in serious harm or injury, even death,” they added.

Only COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for emergency use will be used in the national government’s vaccination drive.

So far, only Pfizer and AstraZeneca have been granted the approval from FDA.

However, the emergency use authorization does not translate to product registration or market distribution which means that it is not allowed to be commercially sold or distributed in the market.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo likewise said that COVID-19 vaccines should be free under the government’s vaccination drive.

“Kung sakali man na ang gobyerno ay mag-designate ng mga LGU or mga private companies to be part of the vaccination program, e kasunod din ‘yun sa alituntunin ng Department of Health,” he said on February 9 press briefing.

“At syempre. pinangako naman ni Pangulo na libre ang bakuna at hindi babayaran itong mga ito,” Domingo added.