Trust doctors on safety of COVID-19 vaccines â DOH
In an interview with ‘The Chiefs’ on Cignal TV’s OneNews Friday night, TAG member Edsel Maurice Salvana said they have always been after the public’s best interest when they evaluate candidate vaccines against COVID-19.
AFP/Yaksin Akgul

Trust doctors on safety of COVID-19 vaccines – DOH

by Rey Arquiza, Sheila Crisostomo, AP, AFP (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A member of the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group (DOH-TAG) has appealed to the public to trust health experts on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

In an interview with ‘The Chiefs’ on Cignal TV’s OneNews Friday night, TAG member Edsel Maurice Salvana said they have always been after the public’s best interest when they evaluate candidate vaccines against COVID-19.

“The primary message that we want to give we have been protecting you for a year. Please trust that this is something that will protect you because we have your best interest in mind,” noted Salvana, who is also the director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health.

Salvana made the statement as the country is expecting some 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines to arrive from China today.

A COVID-19 survivor, Salvana said that he is willing to take the Sinovac vaccine, as he admitted always fearing for his life.

“As for me, I am excited. This is the resolution and we’ve been waiting for over a year and every day when I go out, I’m scared for my life – is this the patient that is going to infect me?” he added.

Salvana said he does not want to let go of the chance to be inoculated against COVID-19.

“Finally there is something that I can do, very tangible, aside from PPEs (personal protective equipment) and everything. That I know it is the start of the end of this nightmare,” he added.

Salvana underscored that they respect if there are health care workers (HCWs) who would refuse Sinovac vaccines, but he reminded them that there is still “no clarity” as to when the next vaccines will come.

“This is an emergency, this is a pandemic, there is a clear and present danger to HCWs,” he maintained.

Last Friday, DOH-TAG and National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) had approved the use of Sinovac vaccines among HCWs directly handling COVID-19 patients.

This is after the Food and Drug Administration had recommended against the inoculation of HCWs with the China-made vaccine because it will have an efficacy rate of only 50.4 in this group.

But according to NITAG member Maria Corazon Quizon, the 50.4 percent effective rate is for the prevention of mild infection of COVID-19.

Quizon said data show that the vaccine is 70 percent effective against moderate cases and “approaching” 100 percent effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19

“Something got lost in translation. When they said the vaccine efficacy is 50.4 percent in preventing mild infection, they did not complete the sentence that it’s 70 percent effective in preventing moderate cases and approaching 100 percent in preventing severe cases,” she added.

She maintained this means that Sinovac vaccines are still able to protect the HCWs.

“That is what we want at the end of the day – to prevent the moderate and severe cases,” she said.

Quizon pointed out that even after the vaccination program has been rolled out in the country, it is still very important for the health protocols to be strictly observed by the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Just because there are already vaccines, it’s like fiesta already. It’s not like that. We still have to practice due diligence,” she added.

Salvana has cautioned against “mixing” different brands of COVID-19 vaccines, saying it could be harmful.

“Mixing vaccines might even be harmful… You could have a bad allergic reaction. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong. There is no data on mixing vaccines,” he told ‘The Chiefs.’

Salvana noted in some cases, when giving vaccines “too close together, the second dose might not be safe.”

He added this is because the immune system of those inoculated “might be prime for other vaccines.”

Salvana said those who will be given the first dose of Sinovac vaccines will receive the second dose of the same brand.

He maintained they are no longer eligible to get the next vaccines that will arrive in the country, also because of the global shortage of COVID-19 jabs.

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