Claiming all jabs are the same, Duterte defends Sinovac purchase

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Claiming all jabs are the same, Duterte defends Sinovac purchase
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on October 5, 2020
Presidential Photo / Simeon Celi, Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday renewed his trust for COVID-19 vaccines developed by China, even going as far as claiming that all jabs are just the same despite developers reporting different efficacy rates.

The president in his weekly address was seemingly responding to criticism that the administration is preferring the Chinese-made Sinovac despite 50% efficacy and yet the second most expensive.

It also comes after findings that nearly a majority of the public were not willing to be vaccinated due to concerns on the safety of the jabs, which Palace, instead of allaying fears, had responded to in saying there would be no other choice until mid-2021.

"[This] is as good as any other bakuna na naimbento ng mga Amerikano o mga European," Duterte, who in his years has made his contempt for the West known, said. "Hindi nagkulang ang Chinese sa utak. They would not venture [if] it is not safe, sure and secure."

(This vaccine is as good as any other that the Americans or Europeans developed. The Chinese are not lacking in mind.)

Sinovac's efficacy remains unclear to date, but its clinical trials in Brazil showed it was at 50.4%, compared with other jabs such as Pfizer at 95% and AstraZeneca at 70%. It had been the subject of concern at home, even from lawmakers, who had criticized the move to procure 25 million of Sinovac's doses.

"Mas mahusay itong pinili nila," Duterte said. "Mas mahusay, mas mabisa at makuha kaagad natin. Kayong ayaw, bahala kayo."

(The one they picked is better. This is more effective and we would get this early. For those who don't want it, you're on your own.)

The recent weeks have seen local governments moving to secure doses for their constituents, with many announcing funding for the effort. None had so far inked deals with Sinovac, with all opting for AstraZeneca.

Duterte, who had pinned his hopes on vaccines for a return to normalcy, also sought to respond to concerns that the country is late into the global negotiations for the COVID-19 vaccines, saying countries which chipped in to developers are the first to receive the doses.

While such is true, the president made no mention nor recognition that he only allowed making advanced payments — which had been prohibited by law — in late November. The move was a significant change in his tune after rejecting such, saying the West was only out to make a profit for the vaccines.

He also claimed that countries in Asia are still awaiting supplies, despite inoculation in Singapore and even in Indonesia already underway. 

"In demand masyado...[to the] highest bidder 'yan," he said. "So 'yung may pera nauuna talagang mabigyan. Pera-pera lang itong buhay na ito eh, maski sabihin mo na COVID."

(The jabs are to much in demand, so it would really go to the highest bidder. So those who have the money would really get it first. Life is all just about money, even if you say it is COVID-19.)

Jakarta's coronavirus infections are the highest in Southeast Asia at nearly 860,000, while Manila's count of over 492,000 puts it at second. 

As it seems, the glaring difference is that the former is already sure of millions of doses and vaccination is underway. Its president, Joko Widodo, was even vaccinated publicly, while the latter had so far signed two deals and inoculation seen by February.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 1, 1970 - 8:00am
May 24, 2021 - 10:59am

The City Health Office of Lipa City reported on Sunday that 6,596 people have already received their jabs of Sinovac and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines since the inoculation started two months ago.

The number represents 10% of the total 65,377 persons who registered to be scheduled for COVID vaccination.

Lipa City has a total population of 389,836 but not everyone registered for the vaccination. The city government also said 149,881 residents are aged 18 and below and currently “not qualified” for vaccination. —  The Filipino Connection/Marlon Luistro

January 6, 2021 - 3:37pm

British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca has applied for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines.

Philippine Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo confirms this in an interview with CNN Philippines.

AstraZeneca, along with its partner Oxford University in England, has so far made 50 million doses of its vaccine. In November, the British laboratory announced that its vaccine was on average 70% effective.

January 5, 2021 - 8:32am

The Armed Forces of the Philippines terminates its investigation into the unregulated Sinopharm vaccination of President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail following the chief executive's order not to cooperate with the probe.

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