Don't buy Covid-19 vaccines online: FDA

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

March 30, 2021, 2:54 pm

MANILA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday warned the public against fake Covid-19 vaccines sold online.

“Globally, there is no approved Covid-19 vaccine available that are currently available online, so please take note that in the Philippines no Covid-19 vaccines are allowed to be sold in drug outlets and even in clinics and hospitals,” FDA Field Regulatory Operations Deputy Director Dr. Oscar Gutierrez Jr. said in an online press briefing.

“Anyone buying these products online is at risk of ill-health and giving their money to organized criminals,” he added.

To date there are only four Covid-19 vaccines in the country granted with emergency use authorization (EUA) -- Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac's CoronaVac, and Gamaleya's Sputnik V.

The EUA is issued for unregistered vaccines in a public health emergency and it is not a certificate of product registration or a marketing authorization.

Gutierrez said apart from being ineffective and giving false sense of protection, fake Covid-19 vaccines are contaminated with hazardous substances which may lead to toxicity and death.

A laboratory test is the only way to spot the difference between the genuine and counterfeit shots.

(From FDA's slideshow presentation presented on March 30, 2021)

Health experts worldwide noted there are at least four ways by which individuals can spot fake Covid-19 vaccines -- place of administration, program under which they are accessed, price and physical appearance of the product,

In the Philippines, Gutierrez said Covid-19 vaccines can be accessed only through shots from DOH-authorized vaccination sites for free -- no reservation, enlistment or schedule fees, or advance payments.

“There is pre-vaccination screening of candidates, the person administering the vaccine is an authorized healthcare worker, and there’s post-vaccination observation and pharmacovigilance under the management of DOH Covid-19 Vaccination Program-National Deployment and Immunization Plan,” he said.

To ensure that no fake Covid-19 vaccine gets into the supply chain of the country, the FDA has collaborated with the World Health Organization, the International Criminal Police Organization and other international organizations.

“As long as the public receives their vaccinations from a DOH-authorized vaccination site and the vaccines are given by licensed health practitioners, they can be confident they are receiving genuine vaccines,” Gutierrez said. (PNA)