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Expert on choosing vaccine brand: Safety over efficacy
In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s OneNews the other night, DOH-Technical Advisory Group member Anna Liza Ong-Lim said the “paramount” priority is to choose a vaccine that is safe for the Filipino people.
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Expert on choosing vaccine brand: Safety over efficacy

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Amid debates on which COVID-19 vaccine is best for Filipinos, a technical adviser of the Department of Health (DOH) said the primary consideration in making the choice is “safety over efficacy.”

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s OneNews the other night, DOH-Technical Advisory Group member Anna Liza Ong-Lim said the “paramount” priority is to choose a vaccine that is safe for the Filipino people.

“When you choose a vaccine, safety is paramount. Actually, safety is always over efficacy. You have to be able to prove that the vaccine is safe; then you look at efficacy,” Lim said.

A president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, Lim is one of the private physicians helping the government combat COVID-19. She is also a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s Technical Working Group on the New Variants.

She acknowledged there is dissonance concerning candidate vaccines, but said they are committed to “guard” the regulatory processes on the selection of vaccines.

“That will be our commitment to our colleagues that we represent so that we can ensure that when we talk to our patients and we say ‘this is good,’ we know where that particular recommendation is coming from,” Lim said.

Asked about the government’s preference for Sinovac vaccines of China, she maintained that all vaccine candidates entering the country undergo stringent regulatory processes for safety and effectiveness.

Aside from the Food and Drug Administration, there are four or five technical expert groups that a vaccine candidate must go through before securing approval in the Philippines.

“For as long as these vaccines undergo proper evaluation and their qualities are evaluated by technical experts, then we should be assured that whatever finally becomes available is safe and effective,” she said.

The expert underscored the need to address the public’s hesitance to take the jab, a major challenge to the vaccine rollout which is expected to start next month.

She said it is “very critical” to build public trust and confidence in the vaccine and the processes that go with it.

“Those are really going to be significant communication challenges but we are already working on it now sector by sector,” she claimed.

Lim added that the health care sector is the primary target for initial inoculation.

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