FDA approves use of Sinovac vaccines but not for health workers

Marje Pelayo   •   February 22, 2021   •   255

MANILA, Philippines – Based on the interim data resulting from the clinical trials held in other countries, it was found out that Sinovac has recorded around 65.3 up to 91.2 percent efficacy rate among the healthy group of people ages 18 to 59 years old.

However, the China-manufactured vaccine has only a 50.4 percent efficacy rate among healthcare workers who are exposed to COVID-19 patients.

That is why health experts do not recommend the administration of Sinovac vaccines to health workers.

“Ang nakita po kasi doon sa trial sa Brazil na ibinigay po ito dun sa mga COVID patients, sa mga health workers na nagta-trabaho sa hospitals na nag-treat ng COVID-19 ay 50.4% ang efficacy,” said Usec. Eric Domingo, Director General of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Mabuti na po yun kaysa wala pero ang rekomendasyon po ng mga expert ay hindi po ito yung pinakamagandang bakuna para sa kanila,” he added. 

Earlier, the FDA granted the emergency use authorization of Sinovac vaccine here in the Philippines.

This is prior to the supposed arrival of around 600,000 doses of Sinovac in the country, a donation from the Chinese government.

Domingo assures that the China-manufactured vaccine went through a thorough examination by the experts before it was granted with an EUA.

“Nang makita po natin ang datos yung safety profile niya is good. Iyong mga adverse event po nito ay mild to moderate the usual na pananakit sa braso konting sinat at ang rating po nya ay maganda doon sa allergy and anaphylaxis,” Domingo said.

“Mababa po ang posibilidad na magkaroon ng allergy or yung severe allergy sa bakunang ito,” he assured.

The government is still yet to determine the exact date of the arrival of the vaccines, as the Chinese embassy requires three to five days to process the delivery.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also cited that China’s Sinovac might be the first brand of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the Philippines.

“Malamang sinovac po yan ang posibleng dumating na 600,000 doses na good for 300,000 individuals, so yan po ang ating inaasahan at kung mailabas na ang EUA ay mga tatlo hanggang limang araw ang hinihingi ng Chinese Embassay para mapaghandaaan ang pagpapadala ng Sinovac vaccines,” Duque confirmed.

Aside from Sinovac, the FDA already granted an EUA to Pfizer-BioNTech as well as AstraZeneca last month.

Meanwhile, Gamaleya’s Sputnik V from Russia just submitted their requirements and documents last week for their EUA application.

On the other hand, India’s Bharat Biotech is yet to submit the result of the 3rd phase of their vaccine clinical trial to the FDA.

According to FDA’s report, currently, there are 232 COVID-19 vaccine developments globally and 64 clinical trials that are on-going in various countries. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Gatchalian volunteers to be inoculated with Sinovac vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said he has volunteered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech in a bid to address vaccine hesitancy.

In a statement, Gatchalian said he is willing to be inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac if allowed under the government’s prioritization framework for the nationwide immunization campaign.

“Alam ko may prioritization tayo ngayon. Kung hindi naman lalabag dito, I would volunteer to be vaccinated by Sinovac. This is to show to the public our support to the vaccination program,” Gatchalian said.

The senator said he sent word to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. over the weekend of his willingness to participate in the national vaccination program.

This is also to disprove the notion that some politicians want to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice and with an efficacy rate higher than CoronaVac, he added.

“What’s more important to me is the seal of approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If it’s approved by the FDA, which went through tedious analysis prior to the grant of authorization for emergency use, I’m okay with it,” he said.

“I’m okay with any brand of anti-COVID-19 vaccine. I’m not brand conscious. I put my trust in the FDA,” he added.

The FDA earlier said that Sinovac’s CoronaVac is not recommended for healthcare workers frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its low efficacy rate of 50.4%, based on trials conducted in Brazil.

The FDA, however, clarified that health workers can still choose to receive the vaccine as it only made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.

The Philippine government on Monday rolled out its immunization program after COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.

The Department of Health said that more than 700 frontline workers, and government officials received the vaccine on the first day of immunization.

Prior to Monday’s immunization drive, a survey conducted from January 26 to February 1, 2021 by the OCTA Research Group showed that only 19% of Filipinos are willing to have themselves vaccinated while 46% would not want to be inoculated and 35% are still undecided.

Gatchalian, however, expressed optimism that the figures will change in the coming days.

“Maraming hesitant dahil bago itong vaccine. Kaya importante dito ang confidence building na dapat pangunahan ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno, well-known personalities, at kahit mga elected officials kagaya ng ginawa ni Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he said.

Cebu City to start vaccination on March 4 after receiving Sinovac jabs

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

Cebu City is eyeing to begin its COVID-19 immunization program on Thursday, March 4, after receiving thousands of doses of CoronaVac vaccines developed by Chinese firm Sinovac.

Some 7,200 doses of Sinovac jabs donated by the Chinese government arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

The vaccines were then delivered to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City for storage.

More than 2,000 medical frontliners at the VSMMC initially registered for vaccination, but according to hospital chief, Dr. Gerard Aquino Jr., many of the vaccine recipients backed out after learning about the brand of the vaccine delivered.

“Initially we submitted the first, there are about 2,900 but lately kay siyempre, when we were informed nga lain ang brand so we have also to inform them,” Aquino said.

“So I think as of yesterday, we have 600 but it keeps on increasing kasi as of yesterday nakita naman nila (ang pagbakuna sa) mga health worker sa Manila,” he added.

Aquino also noted the importance of conducting information drive to increase public confidence and to prevent any misinformation about the vaccines.

“Plus, dapat we did some information campaign talaga kasi sad to say, meron talagang mga misinformation,” he said.

Aquino said he will be the first to receive the Sinovac jab to lead by example and dispel doubts on COVID-19 vaccination.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier 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 of 50.4% based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

The Department of Health (DOH) previously 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.

The DOH urged frontliners to take the available vaccine to give them protection against the virus.

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

The Philippine government on Monday formally rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program to several hospitals in Metro Manila after receiving the donated vaccine doses from China on Sunday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Ryan Mallari)

Davao City receives Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of doses of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Davao City on Tuesday as the government continues its vaccination campaign against the viral respiratory disease.

Some 12,000 doses of CoronaVac developed by Chinese firm Sinovac aboard an airplane arrived at the Davao International Airport around 6:45 a.m.

The COVID-19 vaccines were brought to the Department of Health Regional Office for storage.

Some 12,000 doses of SINOVAC vaccines for Covid-19 arrived at the Davao International Airport, Tuesday morning.These…

Posted by City Government of Davao on Monday, March 1, 2021

The city government said the first batch of vaccines will be used to vaccinate over 8,000 frontline workers, primarily those in the healthcare sector in Davao City and Tagum City.

The immunization will start on Friday at the Southern Philippines Medical Center where 3,000 healthcare workers will be first inoculated.

Of these number, around 150 frontliners are expected to receive the vaccine on the first day of the vaccination.

SPMC officer-in-charge Dr. Ricardo Audan, Davao City COVID-19 focal person Dr. Ashley Lopez, and DOH regional director Annabelle Yumang will be among those to be vaccinated in the city. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Marisol Montaño)

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