Govât hit over preference for Sinovacâs âpasang-awaâ vaccine
Undated photo shows coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Gov’t hit over preference for Sinovac’s ‘pasang-awa’ vaccine

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - December 25, 2020 - 1:10pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:09 p.m.) — Some opposition lawmakers are questioning the government’s continued preference for Sinovac Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine, even after late-stage clinical trials in Brazil showed that its efficacy rate only stands at 50%.

The World Health Organization set a minimum efficacy rate of 50% for vaccines to be used, but its preferred efficacy rate is at least 70%.

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri said Friday it is "totally unacceptable" and a "total waste of our funds and resources" for the government to be procuring a vaccine with only a 50% efficacy rate.

“Why settle for this 'pasang-awa' kind of vaccine when we can get more efficient ones at a lower price?” Rep. Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna party-list) said Friday.

Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara previously presented prices of seven coronavirus vaccines during a Senate hearing, which showed that Sinovac’s inoculation is the second-most expensive shot at P3,629.50 for two doses following Moderna Biotech’s jab which costs up to P4,504 for two doses. 

American drugmaker Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine is the third most expensive, coming at P2,379 for two doses.

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s inoculations, which have been approved for emergency use in the United States, boast efficacy rates above 90%, while the efficacy rate of Sinovac’s vaccine is still shrouded with doubts as experts point out a lack of transparency in the release of data on the shot.

“The Duterte administration’s continued preference for China-made Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines must be thoroughly questioned,” Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list) said. “Why does it seem that China has given Christmas gifts which is why the government is bent on this expensive yet only half-as-effective vaccine?”

“We hope that 'kickvac' allegations are not true and we must see the whole COVID-19 vaccination plan of the [Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases],” Gaite said.

‘Tolerating mediocrity’

Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the task force that implements the country’s policies on COVID-19, hit the government for “tolerating mediocrity” in preferring Sinovac’s jab.

“If Pfizer and Moderna boast of 95% efficacy rate and AstraZeneca has 70%, why would Philippines settle for Sinovac 50% efficacy rate and much more expensive than Pfizer and Astra[Zeneca]?” Leachon said.

“If other countries would like to have world class vaccines with 95% efficacy rate, why can't we? If we allow it, then we set up ourselves to have mediocre immune response,” he added.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, an agency under the Department of Science and Technology tasked to evaluate coronavirus vaccine candidates, said Thursday that Sinovac’s shot may be deemed “acceptable,” but stressed that the Philippines needs to review full data on its efficacy before it can be used in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had defended the government’s keenness on the Sinovac vaccine, saying that the biopharmaceutical company is the only manufacturer who could supply the country with inoculations at the soonest possible time.

24M eyed to get shot

The Philippines is eyeing to buy 25 million doses of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine, which is still undergoing late-stage trials.

Unlike its Southeast Asian neighbors Singapore and Indonesia which secured several vaccine supply deals with various manufacturers, the Philippines has only signed one agreement with one supplier, British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, for 2.6 million doses which was made possible by some 30 private firms who pitched in to buy the shots.

The government eyes to ink a second deal with AstraZeneca for 30 million more doses of its inoculation by next week once it is approved for emergency use by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Health Regulatory Authority.

The country is also eyeing to secure four to 25 million doses of vaccines from Moderna and Arcturus, while vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said that American vaccine developer Novavax has committed to providing the country 30 million doses of its coronavirus shot.

The country, which has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in the Southeast Asian region following Indonesia, is targeting to vaccinate 24 million people against the virus that causes COVID-19 by next year.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 19, 2021 - 11:52am

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)

June 19, 2021 - 11:52am

The Palestinian Authority says it cancelled a swap deal that would have seen Israel provide it with one million COVID-19 jabs, as the doses were "about to expire".

Israeli officials earlier Friday had announced the deal, saying the Jewish state was to provide the doses to the Palestinian Authority as their expiry date loomed.

The PA, based in the occupied West Bank, had confirmed the delivery "in the coming days" of a million vaccine doses, without mentioning an agreement with the Jewish state. — AFP

June 17, 2021 - 3:16pm

Australia recommends that AstraZeneca's Covid-19 jab should not be given to people under 60 on Thursday, a fresh blow to the country's glacial vaccine rollout.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says concerns over possible links to blood clots meant Pfizer was now "the preferred vaccine" for everyone under 60 years old.

Australian authorities had already restricted the AstraZeneca shot to those over 50 in April, after several cases of severe blood clots were possibly linked to it. —  AFP

June 15, 2021 - 8:47pm

Covid vaccine-maker AstraZeneca reveals it had hit a setback in trials of a treatment for the coronavirus.

The drug, made from a combination of two antibodies, failed its main goal to treat COVID-19 symptoms in exposed patients, AstraZeneca says in a statement.

The treatment has been undergoing phase 3 or final clinical trials to assess its safety and efficacy. — AFP

June 12, 2021 - 1:42pm

The US Food and Drug Administration says it had told Johnson & Johnson that millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine produced at a troubled plant can't be used because of possible contamination issues.

In a statement, the FDA says "several" batches of vaccine manufactured at the Emergent BioSolutions facility in the city of Baltimore are not suitable for use. Each batch is known to correspond to several million doses.

Neither the agency nor J&J revealed the precise number of doses, but The New York Times placed the number at 60 million, quoting people familiar with the matter. — AFP

June 11, 2021 - 5:50pm

G7 leaders meet for their first in-person talks in nearly two years, with an expected pledge to donate one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world's poorest countries, as part of a show of Western democratic unity against the planet's most pressing issues.

The club of leading economies -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and United States -- say a joint approach is the world's best chance for recovering from the global health crisis, and tackling climate change.

President Joe Biden set the tone on Wednesday, ditching Donald Trump's isolationist stance on global affairs to ram home a message of resolve by the G7 and NATO against both Beijing and Moscow as he heads on to his first sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in Geneva. — AFP

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with