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HTAC still evaluating Sinovac
“We received the trial data of Sinovac just last week and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) submitted it to the HTAC,” ealth Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
AFP/Erika Santelices

HTAC still evaluating Sinovac

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — China-made vaccines of Sinovac are still undergoing evaluation by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.

According to Duque, the HTAC started the evaluation last week.

“We received the trial data of Sinovac just last week and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)  submitted it to the HTAC,” Duque said.

He said the evaluation is being done as the Philippines would procure one million more doses of Sinovac vaccine expected to arrive in the third week of March.

The government rolled out on Monday the vaccination program using 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by China.

These vaccines were not evaluated by the HTAC as such is not required for donated vaccines.

Marikina health workers back out

More than 1,000 health care workers in Marikina refused to be inoculated with China-made vaccine Sinovac, Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said.

At least 1,500 employees of the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center (ARMMC) were scheduled to receive CoronaVac jabs yesterday but only 130 health workers agreed to have themselves injected.

The city health office said a total of 250 hospital employees were inoculated as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

“There’s cautious optimism. They wanted to (get vaccinated), but they were worried. When you ask them, they will say they want to get vaccinated but they also want others to go first,” Teodoro told reporters.

Marikina began vaccinating health workers yesterday.

Four ARMMC doctors Emerson Chua, Flordeliza Grana, Alih Catis and Rocky Dizon were the first to receive shots.

CoronaVac’s efficacy rate stood at 50.4 percent among health workers who were exposed to COVID-19. Citing research at the Butantan Institute in Brazil, officials said it is 100 percent effective in staving off moderate to serious cases of infection.

Teodoro said the fear among health workers prompted him to insist on having himself inoculated with Sinovac vaccine, but to no avail.

“I was advised that the national immunization technical advisory group of the Department of Health will not allow mayors to go first because they want to prioritize health workers. I insisted to get vaccinated because many of our citizens still have doubts,” he said.

“I want to get vaccinated to set an example, so that we could drum up trust in the safety of the vaccines and to inform people of its efficacy,” Teodoro added.

Metro Manila mayors have assured health care workers that their right to refuse and wait for the next available vaccine would be respected without affecting their spot in the prioritization list.

Health workers from COVID-19 referral hospitals in Metro Manila were supposed to have received Pfizer vaccines about two weeks ago when the government said the rollout of the first batch of vaccines from the Covax Alliance would arrive, only to be snagged by the lack of an indemnity deal.

Vaccinate ordinary workers

Senators expressed optimism on the improved growth prospects of the country with the start of the mass COVID vaccination even as they stressed that key sectors, including ordinary workers, must also be prioritized to pull the economy out of recession.

Sen. Cynthia Villar said she was glad the economy is opening up soon with the arrival of the first batch of vaccines.

“I am happy that we finally have the vaccines here in the Philippines to stop the spread of the virus. Our people, particularly medical frontliners, who risk their lives since Day One of the pandemic would be protected,” Villar said. “The vaccine connotes hope and a much better future for Filipinos.”

She said the vaccine rollout would be a critical step and tool on the road to the recovery of the economy, which suffered the worst slump after the Philippines went into quarantine for almost a year now.

The availability of the vaccine, Villar said, would have a positive impact on “our lives, as we can slowly go back go our jobs, promote livelihood opportunities, open up our industries and the economy and navigate a new normal life.”

She reminded the public not to be complacent despite the vaccine rollout and strictly observe health protocols such as wearing of face mask and shield, handwashing and social distancing.

Sen. Joel Villanueva pushed for the vaccination of ordinary workers as soon as possible, saying it was the only way for the economy to recover.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate labor committee, said he moved for the inclusion of workers in the vaccination program’s “priority lane” because he knew that unless workers were given back their jobs, the economy would have a difficult time recovering.

Government data showed that up to 17 million workers lost their jobs from March to April due to the pandemic.

Villanueva said there was only one thing needed for the country to get back on its feet: “Work, work, work.”

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the pandemic’s greatest damage may have been “incarcerating millions of children and sending the educational system to the ICU.”

“These kids may end up as the ‘lost generation’ if the return to normalcy will be slowed down by vaccine shortage, and if we fail to adjust to and invest in new learning modes,” he said. – Neil Jayson Servallos, Paolo Romero

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