Mon Tulfo says 'thousands' of gov't officials, police, military got COVID-19 vaccines from his source

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Special Envoy to China and columnist Ramon "Mon" Tulfo, who recently admitted having received shots of the COVID-19 vaccine made by China's Sinopharm last year, disclosed on Wednesday that "thousands" of government officials have also been inoculated by his source despite the absence of regulatory approval in the Philippines. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 24) — Special Envoy to China and columnist Ramon "Mon" Tulfo, who recently admitted having received shots of the COVID-19 vaccine made by China's Sinopharm last year, disclosed on Wednesday that "thousands" of government officials have also been inoculated by his source despite the absence of regulatory approval in the Philippines.

Tulfo said he was not aware of the exact number but he was told that officials from the executive, legislative, military, police and local government received the same vaccine he got in October 2020. He mentioned that Cabinet secretaries and members of the Presidential Security Group, as earlier reported, were vaccinated.

"Legislative, Executive, and police, miiltary, yes," Tulfo told CNN Philippines' News Night. "I'm not aware of the numbers but I was told that it's by the thousands."

He did not reveal where and from whom he received the doses but shared that the vaccination took place in a private property and his supplier was "a philanthropist." Tulfo added that he received the first dose alongside a former provincial governor, and the second dose with a police official, whose names he refused to disclose.

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration allowed the President's security to use the unregistered Sinopharm vaccines through a "compassionate permit" in the absence of Emergency Use Authorization. However, Tulfo said that at the time of his vaccination alongside other state officials, he was not aware of the permit.

Only three manufacturers have been granted Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA — US' Pfizer BioNtech, UK's AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac. Regulators and health officials have repeatedly warned against the use of unregistered vaccines due to the potential health risks.

Conflict of interest

Tulfo said he accepted the unregistered vaccines because he was applying to be a local distributor for Sinopharm. He denied that this venture would be in conflict with his position as envoy to China, by arguing that he did not use his position to get the supplies.

Tulfo said he is not even sure if he is still an envoy since he was unable to have his appointment renewed when it lapsed supposedly in March 2020. He was also not informed if the appointment was revoked.

"The appointment was neither revoked or renewed so I was in limbo," said Tulfo.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the agency will investigate Tulfo for using smuggled vaccines.