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Palace: Duterte not in age range for Sinovac jabs
A city hall employee (L) takes part in a vaccination simulation in Manila on January 19, 2021, ahead of the expected arrival of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines in the capital city next month.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Palace: Duterte not in age range for Sinovac jabs

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - February 22, 2021 - 6:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte won't be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines because the China-made shots that are expected to be the first to arrive in the Philippines are not recommended to be given to senior citizens, Malacañang said Monday.

The Philippines' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Sinovac's COVID-19 jabs but they won't be administered to health care workers—the top priority in the vaccination program—because its efficacy rate only stood at 50.4% among members of the sector.

The shots should also be given to clinically healthy persons aged 18 to 59 years old, the FDA added.

"Well, obviously po dahil sinabi po ng inisyu ng FDA na hindi muna natin gagamitin sa senior, hindi po mapapasama ang Presidente sa mauuna (because of the issuance of the FDA which states that we cannot use it for seniors, the president won't be among the first to get vaccines)," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.

Roque said members of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group would meet to discuss the vaccine program priorities that may have to be modified because of the FDA's decision on Sinovac. He noted that 100,000 of the 600,000 initial doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by China have been allocated for soldiers.

"Our first priority were the health workers and then seniors but they cannot receive the vaccine so the economic frontliners and our soldiers may become the priorities. They are the people working in industries that remained open while we were under ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),"  the Palace spokesman said in Filipino.

"Our vaccination will continue, it won't be disrupted. If we cannot give them to seniors and healthcare workers, we have many critical economic frontliners who can be vaccinated," he added.

Roque said the poor can also be inoculated if the supply agreement involving the procurement of one million Sinovac doses pushes through.

"Hindi naman po natin pinili ito pero tingnan ninyo mayroon talagang Panginoon na nagsabi mauuna talaga ang mahihirap sa Pilipinas na magkaroon ng bakuna (We did not choose this but look, we really have a God who says that the poor in the Philippines should be prioritized in the vaccines)," he said.

Roque said the 75-year-old Duterte has expressed preference for COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Sinopharm, also a Chinese firm.

Earlier this month, the FDA allowed the compassionate use of 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and their families.

PSG chief Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III had admitted that some of Duterte's security aides have been inoculated against COVID-19 as early as September last year.

The vaccination took place even before the FDA approved any COVID-19 shot for local use. Durante, however, claimed that the vaccination was done "in good faith" and that the security aides could not wait for the jabs to be available because they have a mission to protect the president.

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