Philippines to probe bribery claims vs Chinese drugmaker Sinovac
This file photo taken on September 24, 2020 shows an engineer working in the general laboratory during a media tour of a new factory built to produce a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at Sinovac, one of 11 Chinese companies approved to carry out clinical trials of potential coronavirus vaccines, in Beijing.
AFP/Wang Zhao

Philippines to probe bribery claims vs Chinese drugmaker Sinovac

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 9, 2020 - 5:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vaccine screening authorities in the Philippines will look into reports alleging that Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech has a record of bribing drug regulators, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

The Washington Post reported that court records showed that Sinovac’s CEO bribed China’s drug regulator to expedite approvals for their SARS vaccine in 2003 and swine flu vaccine in 2009. The firm acknowledged the bribery case involving its CEO but said he cooperated with prosecutors and was not charged.

The report, however, noted there is no evidence that any of Sinovac’s products involved in bribery cases were faulty. But experts interviewed by the Washington Post said the company’s history of bribery “casts a long shadow of doubt” over its vaccine claims.

In a briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the department is aware of the report. He said the country’s vaccine screening authorities will validate and investigate the allegation.

“This will form part of the work of the vaccine experts panel. They will assess the veracity first and foremost of such a report to know if there is some truth to it,” Duque said.

“If true, then it’s up to the vaccine experts panel to include this in their final report and also the Food and Drug Administration. There is also the Single Joint Ethics Review Board to ensure we won’t fall victims to these questionable transactions if it really happened,” he added.

“CoronaVac”—the coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinovac—may be the first vaccine to be rolled out in the country, inoculation czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said in an interview on ANC’s “Headstart.”

The Chinese pharmaceutical firm also applied to conduct a large-scale clinical trial in the Philippines to assess the efficacy of its product.

The Philippine government is eyeing to vaccinate around 24.7 million Filipinos in the first part of the immunization program against COVID-19. 

Some 1.76 million health workers would be first in the list of priority beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccination. Medical frontliners would be followed senior citizens, indigent Filipinos and uniformed personnel.

Sinovac has sent Indonesia—the country with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia—1.2 million doses of its vaccine. Another 1.8 million doses are expected to be delivered in January. 

Brazil's Sao Paulo state said it would begin its vaccination program using Sinovac's vaccine next month. 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 2, 2021 - 7:10pm

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

March 2, 2021 - 7:10pm

A shipment of 3.94 million coronavirus jabs arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday, making Africa's most populous nation the world's third country to receive vaccines under Covax, a global scheme to provide free inoculations, an AFP journalist saw. 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, are the first of 16 million doses that Covax plans to deliver over the coming months to Nigeria, where they will be given first to healthworkers, the government said. — AFP

March 2, 2021 - 6:14pm

The health ministry announces that Iraq received 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by China, launching a long-awaited vaccination campaign.

Health ministry spokesman Seif al-Badr told reporters that the first delivery in the early hours meant inoculations could begin.

"The doses will be delivered to Baghdad's three main hospitals, and maybe to some provinces," says Badr, who confirmed the jabs were donations. — AFP 

March 1, 2021 - 9:12pm

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday became the first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine under the global Covax scheme, as US health workers prepared to distribute nearly four million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.

Covax, a scheme designed to ensure that poorer countries do not miss out on Covid-19 vaccines that have so far been largely hoovered up by rich nations, is aiming to deliver at least two billion doses by the end of the year.

Akufo-Addo received his AstraZeneca shot live on television along with his wife, a day before the rest of the first batch of 600,000 Covax doses are deployed across Ghana.

"It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it, so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine," the president said. — AFP

March 1, 2021 - 11:31am

Four million doses of the latest Covid-19 vaccine to get US approval will be delivered across the country as early as Tuesday, a senior administration official said.

The United States on Saturday authorized Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine for emergency use, boosting President Joe Biden's plan to battle the outbreak that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

The single-shot vaccine — the third type to be authorized — is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19, including against newer variants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said before giving it a green light. —  AFP

March 1, 2021 - 7:06am

Willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine is on the rise compared to last year, a survey of six industrialised countries published on Monday shows.

More people in the United Kingdom, the United States and even vaccine-sceptical France now accept the idea of getting a coronavirus jab, KekstCNC, an international consultancy, says in the survey conducted in February.

The survey also covers Germany, Japan and Sweden where a similar trend was clear, it says.

"As vaccine rollouts commence, higher numbers of people in all countries say they would take the vaccine," the study says. —  AFP

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