Duterte, healthcare workers won't get Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine; "economic frontliners," poor, soldiers may use it instead - Palace
President Rodrigo Duterte, being a senior citizen, and healthcare workers are not advised to receive COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China's Sinovac due to low efficacy rate, Malacanang said on Monday.
Quoting the Food and Drug Administration which granted the emergency used authority to Sinovac, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said while Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine has an acceptable efficacy rate based on the World Health Organization's standard, it would be better not to use it on senior citizens or those 60 years old and above and to healthcare workers who are more exposed to the virus.
The FDA said Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, which has 50.4 percent efficacy rate to healthcare workers, is ideal for 18 to 59 years old healthy people.
Since Duterte is not advisable to be injected by Sinovac vaccine, Roque said, "He (Duterte) has said that his preference is for Sinopharm."
Sinopharm is another Chinese manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccine. But it has no EUA in the country yet.
Some of Duterte's security personnel, however, was already vaccinated with Sinopharm and the Presidential Security Group even sought for FDA's compassionate approval for the use of Sinopharm vaccine for its other members.
Despite the low efficacy rate of Sinovac, Roque said that its vaccine could still be helpful in arresting the spread of COVID-19.
He said with the EUA, Sinovac vaccine could arrive in the country within the week.
"They (China) could not commit a date but it will take around three days from date of approval for them to ensure that the vaccines arrive in the Philippines...we're praying it will arrive within the week but I think the three days that they asked from date of issuance falls within the week," he said.
Roque said the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine could be used to "economic frontliners," and poor Filipinos as well as the soldiers.
"For purposes of Sinovac, they will have to amend their order of priority because obviously it cannot be given to health care workers and it cannot be given to senior citizens. I anticipate, it will be first given to the Armed Forces and to the economic frontliners before we go to the indigents," he said.
China has promised to deliver first its donated 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses, wherein 100,000 doses are allotted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
As to the economic frontliners, he said these include employees of those industries that the government did not order closed even if the country went on a lockdown last year. They include transport workers, farmers, miners, fishermen, those working in export-oriented industries, and business process outsourcing, among others.
Roque also said the efficacy rate which is within the WHO's standard, having Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine is better than having nothing at all.
"It's because those who will be vaccinated will only have 50 percent chance of getting sick; and if they get sick, it's almost 80 percent that they do not need to go to the doctor becuase it will be mild and asymptomatic and 100 percent, no one will be hospitalized," he said.
"So, we are recommending it because what we want is to avoid deaths and serious illnesses," Roque added. Celerina Monte/DMS