The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech, its Director-General Eric Domingo said on Monday.
This makes Sinovac the third vaccine company to secure EUA in the Philippines following AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom and Pfizer-BioNTech of the US/Germany.
In a press briefing, Domingo admitted that it is not the best vaccine in the market to protect healthcare workers in the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic after its efficacy, which ranged from 65.3% to 91.2%, only reached 50.4% among health workers with COVID-19 exposure.
He also added that it should only be received by healthy people aged 18-59 with an interval of four weeks between doses.
“Ang nakita kasi sa trial sa Brazil na binigay ito sa healthcare workers sa hospitals treating COVID-19 ay 50.4% ang efficacy niya. Mas mabuti na kaysa wala. Pero ang rekomendasyon natin, ng mga experts ay hindi ito ang pinaka magandang bakuna para sa kanila,” said Domingo.
However, despite lower efficacy, Domingo said Sinovac rated well in terms of side effects as it is a good option for those with allergies since there is a low possibility that a person will develop severe allergies or anaphylaxis after inoculation.
“Iyong safety profile niya, iyong adverse effects, usual lang na pananakit sa vaccination area, kaunting sinat. Pero sa allergy/anaphylaxis [difficulty in breathing] analysis, mababa ang posibilidad ng mga ito sa bakunang ito,” he added.
For Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Sinovac is not a sub-par vaccine, stating that it is better than no protection at all.
“It is accepted by WHO (World Health Organization) standards. Ibig sabihin, 50% chance na hindi mo makukuha ang sakit, 100% chance na hindi ka mamamatay sa COVID-19. Bakit naman hindi tatanggapin ng tao ang bakunang magbibigay ng kasiguruhan na hindi ka mamamatay sa COVID-19?” he said.
He also noted that healthcare workers and soldiers may be the first ones to receive the 600,000 Sinovac doses donated by the Chinese government, which are set to arrive in the country this week.
“Baka mauna ang economic frontliners na kasama ng sundalo, nagtatrabaho sa industriya na bukas noong ECQ. Kung hindi mabibigay sa seniors at frontliners, napakadami namang critical economic frontliners na mabibigyan,” Roque said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said the Department of Health will use its savings to buy Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines.
“Ang paggagamitan po nu’ng [savings], sa Sinovac na aangkatin natin. Kaunti lang ito, 50,000 doses muna ang babayaran.. Iyan ang sabi ng National Task Force [Against COVID-19]. Meron pong savings na puwedeng magamit para sa bakuna, at tinitignan po natin iyong Sinovac para sa karagdagan o sa labas ng donated ng 600,000 [doses],” he said.
Aside from Sinovac, the country is also anticipating 25 million doses of CoronaVac.