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

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2021   •   349

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. 

Duterte declares Nov. 2, Dec. 24 & 31 ‘Special working days’ for this year

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a proclamation amending some dates that have long been traditional holidays in the country and making them now ‘special working days.’

Under Proclamation No. 1107, the president declared the following days as ‘special working days’ for the year 2021:

  • November 2 – All souls’ day
  • December 24 – Christmas eve
  • December 31 – New Year’s eve

These dates were previously classified as special non-working days under Proclamation No. 986 s. 2020.

“For the country to recover from the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead,” Duterte said in his order.

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the country’s economy into a slump last year due to a lockdown that affected many businesses and workers.

IATF OKs use of Sinovac COVID-19 vax for healthcare workers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has agreed with the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) to use Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said NITAG experts have concluded that the vaccine will be beneficial and is sufficient to be used for healthcare workers despite its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% for those frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Monday, issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac but did not recommend its use for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients due to its lower efficacy rate based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

Vergeire stressed that the FDA’s recommendation on Sinovac was not a contraindication and that this does not prohibit healthcare workers from getting the Sinovac jab.

“Ultimately, the EUA of FDA establishes the safety and efficacy of Sinovac and our experts have ruled that SINOVAC’s 100% efficacy rate in preventing moderate and severe cases is indeed sufficient to meet the goal of reducing deaths — protections which we want to afford first and foremost to our healthcare workers,” she said.

Experts from NITAG also emphasized that the vaccine is safe and that they themselves are prepared to receive a shot.

“In our deliberations what we looked at it is safety to ensure the vaccine is safe that has been borne out by the review of the trials,” Dr. Marissa Alejandira, DOH-TAG member, said.

“As for myself, as a healthcare worker who sees COVID-19 patients, I am willing to take this vaccine,” Dr. Edsel Salvana, also a DOH TAG member, said.

They, however, stressed that medical frontliners will not be forced to take the shot and that they will not lose their priority status if they chose to decline the Sinovac vaccine shot.

The DOH said it is now finalizing details on how to allocate the 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses expected to arrive on Sunday, February 28. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Duterte designates NBI as sole body to probe PNP-PDEA ‘misencounter’

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the National Bureau of Investigation to be the sole agency to investigate the alleged misencounter between cops and operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Malacañang said Friday.

“Nagdesisyon po ang ating president na tanging NBI lang po ang mag-iimbestiga duon sa putukan na nangyari sa panig ng mga kapulisan at PDEA diyan po sa Quezon City,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The shooting incident involving policemen and PDEA operatives occurred on Wednesday afternoon near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Four individuals – two cops, a PDEA agent and an informant – were killed in the gun battle.

The PNP and PDEA earlier said that a joint Board of Inquiry has been created to look into the incident.

But due to Duterte’s order, the joint probe will have to be discontinued.

“’Yung mga binuong joint panel para imbestigahan yan, na binuo po ng PNP at PDEA ay di na po magtutuloy sa kanilang imbestigahan,” Roque said.

Both PNP and PDEA assured to work with the NBI in compliance with Duterte’s directive. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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