Duterte vouches for China’s Sinovac, says LGUs may choose any vaccine brand

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2021   •   356

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (January 13) vouched for the efficacy of Sinovac, the COVID-19 vaccine developed in China.

He said the Chinese-made vaccine is “as good as any other” vaccines developed in the United States and Europe.

“Hindi nagkulang ang Chinese sa utak (The Chinese is not lacking in knowledge). They would not venture kung hindi sapat (if it’s not) safe, sure, and secure. Iyang tatlo. It must be safe, sure and secure. That is the guarantee,” the President said.

His remark comes after several local government units (LGUs) opted to choose and procure the brand of their choice other than the ones preferred by the national government. 

“We are not forcing anybody to join the cause of the national government,” Duterte said.

“I am addressing this to the mayors. You can choose any vaccine you like to buy. Wala kaming pakialam kung ano ang pipiliin niyo (We don’t care which one you choose). Hindi kami makialam sa lahat ng bagay in the purchase (We won’t meddle in anything that has to do with the [vaccine] purchase),” he stressed.

But he reminded the local chief executives that it is still the national government that approves whatever medicine or drugs should be made available for public consumption.

The President maintained that he prefers whatever vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez will procure, for after all, he is his representative and that his decision will be the President’s responsibility.

“Ang responsibility niya ay responsibility ko rin. Kung may bulilyaso at the end of the day, akin talaga yang responsibility (His responsibility is my responsibility. If there are problems along the way, at the end of the day, it is my responsibility),” the President stressed.

During the meeting, Galvez confirmed that the national government is set to grant the Chinese drugmaker Sinovac its emergency use authorization (EUA) for its vaccine before February 20.

The official added that initial delivery will be 50,000 doses, followed by 950,000 doses in March then to one to three million in increasing volumes in the succeeding months. 

AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in PH

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The initial batch of COVID-19 vaccine developed by British-Swede drug maker AstraZeneca has arrived in the Philippines.

The plane carrying 487,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccines landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at past 7 p.m.

The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines is part of the first round of allocated doses from the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility.

Some 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines were supposed to arrive in the country on March 1 but encountered delay allegedly due to supply problems.

The Philippines is expected to receive at least 5.6 million shots of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca via the COVAX Facility within the first quarter of 2021.

AstraZeneca vaccine ‘ineffective’ if B.1.351 (South Africa) variant not contained in Phl — expert

Maris Federez   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An expert from the UP-OCTA Research on Wednesday warned that AstraZeneca vaccine offers very little protection in fighting off the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a virtual press briefing, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a fellow at the UP-OCTA Research, presented studies showing that the South Africa variant lowers the efficacy of several COVID-19 vaccines.

He particularly mentioned the United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca, saying B.1.351 variant significantly decreases the vaccine’s efficacy from 70% to mere 10%.

 “Basically, South Africa decided to abandon the AstraZeneca vaccine. It was no different than injecting water into the patients. With 10% protection, basically, most people would still be able to get mild and moderate COVID-19,” Austriaco said.

Austriaco underscored how imperative it is to eliminate the B.1.351 variant as it could be a potential stumbling block to the country’s goal of achieving herd immunity.

 “The B1.351 variant can resist the AstraZeneca vaccine. If we do not eliminate the B1.351 variant in the Philippines…the 17 million doses of AstraZeneca that we have already bought but have not yet arrived will be ineffective against fighting this particular variant from South Africa,” he said.

“If it is not controlled, if it is not eliminated from the islands, [it will be] more difficult for us to vaccinate the 75 million Filipinos in order to acquire herd immunity,” he added.

Austriaco also said that, with AstraZeneca vaccine, there is still a need for a third shot to boost the two doses that will be given to the vaccinees to ensure that they are protected from the said variant.

“We would need three doses of the remaining vaccines because you would need one booster shot just for the B.1.351 variant,” he said.

The Philippines is expected to receive an initial 487,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday from the WHO-COVAX facility. Local government units and private companies have also procured around 17 million doses through tripartite agreements.

Recent findings showed that the Philippines has recorded six cases of the South Africa variant. —/mbmf (with details from Aiko Miguel)

FDA still awaits Phase 3 trial report from Synopharm to determine vaccine’s efficacy on elderly

Marje Pelayo   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that the Chinese pharma Sinopharm has applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) online.

But the agency said the firm submitted only a few documents accompanying its application.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said Sinopharm needs to complete all necessary documents in order for the application to proceed.

With only a little information it received from the China-based company, the FDA cannot tell if the Sinopharm vaccine can be given to senior citizens including President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Hindi pa masabi sa ngayon. Wala pang binibigay na datos. Wala pa rin po kasing published Phase 3 trial results itong Sinopharm,” Domingo said.

“Until we see scientific evidence at makita kanino ginamit ang kanilang clinical trial at tsaka kanilang experience sa paggamit sa ibang mga bansa, doon pa lang makakapagbigay recommendation kanino pwede bakuna ang bakuna na ito,” he added. –MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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