20210506 duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is inoculated with China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine by Health Secretary Fracisco Duque III. Image Credit: AP/PTI

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is asking China to take back 1,000 doses of donated Sinopharm vaccine after facing criticism for receiving a shot even though it has not yet been authorized for public use in the country.

The Philippine health secretary injected Duterte with the coronavirus vaccine Monday. An unspecified number of Duterte's guards have also been injected with the Sinopharm vaccine in secrecy.

The president apologized but says his use of the Chinese vaccine was recommended by his doctors and did not breach any regulation because it was covered by a "compassionate use'' exemption.

Critics, however, say Duterte made a mockery of vaccine regulations while ordinary Filipinos have struggled with a plethora of pandemic restrictions.

Philippine regulators have approved coronavirus vaccines from seven foreign pharmaceutical firms for emergency public use but only three have made deliveries so far.