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Navotas mayor says they won't buy Sinovac jabs after poll shows people prefer other brands

Philstar.com
Navotas mayor says they won't buy Sinovac jabs after poll shows people prefer other brands
Photo shows Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco.
Toby Tiangco Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Navotas City will not be purchasing China's Sinovac vaccine, its mayor said Friday, in line with the preference of its people for three other brands shown in an informal survey.

Mayor Toby Tiangco added that, like his constituents, he was personally hesitant to be inoculated with the Chinese firm's vaccine. "For me, I'm sorry, but I'm quite afraid of [the] Sinovac [jab]," he told CNN Philippines' "The Final Word" in Filipino.

This comes amid the national government's highly-contested acquisition of 25 million doses of Sinovac's vaccines despite the lack of definitive data on its safety and efficacy from its manufacturer. A recent Pulse Asia survey also found that nearly half of Filipinos are unwilling to be inoculated, mostly owing to safety concerns.

Tiangco said his government will instead be purchasing vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna. "Those three are the vaccine brands that we will buy so our residents will have choices," he said, adding that he is willing to be inoculated with any of the three jabs.

Informal survey

The mayor explained that the decision was based on a poll conducted by the local government in December and January which asked respondents if they would be willing to be inoculated with free vaccines. The choices were "yes, no, or it depends on the brand," he added.

"Those who said yes were 18%, those who said no were 17%, and the 64.1% said it depends on the brand," Tiangco said in Filipino, adding that the top three brands were AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.

The effort undertaken by Navotas City to conduct the survey paints a direct contrast with the Palace which has told Filipinos to not be "picky" with vaccine brands. Tiangco emphasized that purchasing untrusted brands would only serve to hamper efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Moderna and Pfizer's vaccine have proven efficacy rates of 94.1% and 95%, respectively. Pfizer is also the only vaccine so far that has received emergency use authorization from local regulators. AstraZeneca's vaccine has an efficacy rate of 70% and is one of the cheapest jabs on the market, priced at P610 for the two doses needed per person.

Sinovac has not yet released worldwide data on its jab which was recently found to have a 50.4% efficacy rate in Brazil, barely meeting the 50% to 60% threshold set by global authorities.

Navotas City has already signed a tripartite agreement with the national government and AstraZeneca to purchase 100,000 doses of its vaccine, Tiangco said.

Meanwhile, no tripartite deal with the national government has been inked yet with Moderna and Pfizer, according to Tiangco, although he said he received word from Moderna that an agreement may soon be signed.

Under the rules set by the COVID-19 task force, local government units can only acquire vaccines for 50% of their population and must do so through tripartite agreements with manufacturers and the national government.

The national government is expecting a shipment of Pfizer vaccine from the COVAX facility, a platform set up to ensure COVID-19 jabs reach those in greatest need, as early as February. The first shipment of 50,000 Sinovac vaccines is also expected to arrive next month.

Tiangco said Navotas is already preparing the ultra-low temperature freezers needed to store the Pfizer jabs. — Bella Perez-Rubio

COVID-19

NAVOTAS CITY

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

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