Doctor slammed by Malacañang for questioning purchase of China vax

Dr. Tony Leachon. Photo: Leachon/FB
Dr. Tony Leachon. Photo: Leachon/FB

President Rodrigo Duterte is displeased over the criticisms made by one of his former COVID-19 task force advisors, Spokesman Harry Roque said today in his press briefing.

The president, known for making controversial public statements, would often curse at Dr. Tony Leachon during his Talk to the People weekly briefings, according to Roque.

Leachon, a cardiologist, was forced to resign from the National Task Force Against COVID-19 in June for criticizing the Department of Health’s less-than-ideal response to the pandemic.

“It’s edited from Talk to People but there have been a lot of times when the president has cursed him. He said that you’re (Leachon) saying a lot of things because you just want to have a government position,” Roque said in English and Filipino.

“Next time that the president curses you, I will insist that it would be shown to the people. You probably think that the president is happy with you? No. All the other cabinet members who have been in attendance in Talk to the People can attest to this,” Roque added.

The spokesman’s statements were backed up by the task force’s chairman Carlito Galvez Jr. Galvez, who does not have a background in medicine or science, said that Leachon was “hard to work with. He has his own world.”

Roque reacted to a remark made by Leachon over the weekend, where the doctor expressed alarm over the Duterte government’s plan to buy the China-made Sinovac vaccine, a move that the latter described as “disturbing.”

“I wonder what the medical associations/legislators can do to prevent that from happening,” Leachon wrote in a tweet.

Brazil halted its clinical trials of Sinovac last month after an “adverse, serious event.” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal critic of the Chinese government, has publicly rejected the candidate vaccine.

Meanwhile, Leachon said in an online statement today that he was hurt by Roque’s accusations, which were “baseless and untrue.”

“I have been an independent health reform advocate for many years. I have the highest respect for our President and the government,” he said.

“I’m raising a red flag on efficacy and safety data on the vaccines so we can procure the right vaccine for our country. I dreamt of serving the government before but I have no future ambitions to be a public official,” the doctor added.


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