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‘Experts need to ensure COVID-19 vaccine safety, efficacy’

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go yesterday stressed the need for experts to ensure the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines to allay fears and help improve public confidence in the National COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap, while emphasizing that government authorities are doing their best to secure sufficient supply of vaccines for the country.

In a statement, Go also urged experts, such as those in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to provide clear explanations to the public on the steps and precautions being taken to ensure that lives will be protected when the vaccine program is rolled out.

“Plans and decisions must be carefully explained to heighten public trust and allay fears on the vaccines. Let us not disregard our fellowmen who do not know where to get vaccine or those who don’t even know what and for where these vaccines are,” he said in Filipino as a reminder to authorities.

The senator also appealed to the public to trust health experts and rely on credible sources of information to be aware and to fully understand why vaccination is crucial in overcoming the pandemic toward full recovery.

“Let us trust our government because it is doing everything to protect the lives of every Filipino,” he said.

Meanwhile, Go is asking for an explanation from the FDA on its decision to not recommend the use of China’s Sinovac vaccine on medical frontliners.

In an ambush interview right after he distributed assistance to market and ambulant vendors in Baclaran, Parañaque City, the senator said FDA director general Eric Domingo should explain to the public why they have to set such conditions and why they choose the type of vaccines that will be used by health workers.

“I will ask FDA director general Eric Domingo why there are such conditions. This must be cleared before the public to avoid confusion or fear among the people on why vaccines are chosen,” he said.

Go’s statement came after Domingo disclosed that they have approved the emergency use authorization (EUA) of Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines, but would not recommend the use of this brand on medical frontliners due to its lower efficacy rate of 50.4 percent, based on clinical trials worldwide.

National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said a total of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines would be donated to the Philippines by the Chinese government. The Philippines also plans to buy more doses from Sinovac on top of what will be donated.

While awaiting the vaccine rollout, Go reminded the public to remain vigilant, cooperate with authorities and trust that the government is doing everything it can to overcome the ongoing health crisis.

He also appealed for understanding from the public for the difficulties encountered in securing the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and emphasized that the government is doing its best to fast-track the procurement of the vaccines.

“The government is doing everything, Secretary Galvez is doing everything. The problem here is the supply of vaccines all over the world,” Go said.

Barring any hitches, the government remains hopeful that the over 500,000 Sinovac vaccines from China will be arriving in the country three to five days after the FDA granted the EUA of the Chinese vaccine manufacturer.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the announcement after the government missed its original schedule of arrival for the Sinovac vaccines yesterday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, along with the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, has been assured of the vaccines’ arrival shortly after the issuance of the EUA. – Sheila Crisostomo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Michael Punongbayan

COVID-19 VACCINE
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