COVID-19 Watch FACT CHECK Health

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Liberal Party, NPA DID NOT ask to return Sinopharm vaccines to China

Neither the Liberal Party (LP) nor the New People’s Army (NPA) has called for the return of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines to China, contrary to the claim in a May 6 post by Facebook (FB) page PH Latest and its YouTube channel.

It was President Rodrigo Duterte who ordered the withdrawal of the China-made jabs, after he received public backlash for getting inoculated with the drug even while it has yet to be authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The false post, a 96-minute livestream video, was packaged as a news report and bore the title: “GRABE NAMAN! BAKUNA PINAPASULI NG N.PA AT LP SA CHINA (This is serious! NPA and LP want vaccines to be returned to China).”

Its content, however, only played Duterte’s May 5 Talk to the People address where the president apologized for the Sinopharm jab he got two days prior and said the vaccine secured a compassionate use permit before it was administered to him.

Duterte added that he has asked the Chinese ambassador to withdraw all 1,000 doses of the donated Sinopharm vaccines, and instead provide the Philippines with Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac.

Nowhere in the video was LP or the NPA mentioned calling for the return of the unauthorized vaccines.

PH Latest’s erroneous video came as the Philippines continued to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program. As of May 11, just over 2.5 million doses of the available 7.8 million jabs have been administered to Filipinos.

As for the Sinopharm vaccine, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on May 8 that the Health Department will file an application with the FDA for an emergency use authorization of the drug “so that there would be no need to return them.”

PH Latest’s spurious post on Youtube and FB has received over 9,500 and 140,000 views, respectively. Its copy on FB received 2,100 reactions, 616 comments, and 248 shares from netizens.

PH Latest, which claims to provide a “daily dose of news,” joined FB in June 2020 and YouTube in May 2017.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)