Sinopharm vaccinees must look out for 73 side effects

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

• Chinese vaccine’s user guide lists high blood pressure, vision loss

• Shanghai expert posts list, then retracts comments in CCP organ

• Phl FDA chief says complete list is needed for “free, informed choice”

Cabinet men and presidential guards vaccinated with Sinopharm must watch out for 73 side effects. Among those listed in its user guide are hypertension, loss of vision and taste, delayed menstruation and urinary incontinence.

Common “systemic adverse reactions” include headache, fever, muscle pain, difficulty breathing and diarrhea. “Occasional effects:” anorexia and vomiting. “Very rare:” asthma, tonsillitis, eye pain and earache. Usual are pain, swelling and itchiness in the injected area.

Details have been published in Chinese and English newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan. State-owned Sinopharm (China National Pharmaceutical Corp.) is one of three Chinese developers of jabs against COVID-19 that sprang from Wuhan.

A Shanghai vaccine expert posted the Mandarin user manual on social media Weibo last week. Days later Dr. Tao Lina’s post was deleted for alleged violations. He retracted his opinions, but not the enumerated after-effects.

The retraction was published by Global Times, the English edition of People’s Daily, official organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. By then Tao’s vaunted 4.5 million followers had read his post.

Though unregistered in the Philippines, Sinopharm’s inoculant has been used on unnamed high officials and the Presidential Security Group. PSG chief Maj. Gen. Jesus Durante would not confirm the brand. But he said they injected each other in September-October after reviewing available studies. Sinopharm at the time was still in late-stage clinical trials in China, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. Tests in Peru were suspended in early December when a volunteer suffered severe side effects.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque advises vaccinees to report any adverse effects to doctors. The PSG committed to periodic checks. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to authorize any COVID-19 inoculant for emergency use. Sinopharm has not applied for such EUA in the Philippines.

On Dec. 30 China’s National Medical Products Administration approved for general domestic use Sinopharm’s injectable BBIBP-CorV. Claimed efficacy of the inactivated-virus vaccine: 79.34 percent. Test results of new products need to be published for peer review, but Chinese pharmaceutical firms are criticized for spotty compliance.

Makers must submit all test findings in applying for authorization, FDA director general Eric Domingo told The STAR. All known side effects must be documented and stated in product information inserts. That’s crucial for patients’ free and informed choice.

Some makers list not only known but also potential side effects. Reports cite varying reasons, like hedging against damage suits. All COVID-19 vaccines so far took only six months to develop, when the process normally stretches at least two years, Dr. Domingo said.

The CCP’s Global Times blamed the confusion over Sinopharm on Voice of America. VOA purportedly twisted Dr. Tao’s satirical comment on the 73 listed side effects to mean the opposite. Tao had said the lengthy and overly cautious user guide made it look like Sinopharm is the most unsafe vaccine in the world. To the CCP organ, the former Shanghai disease prevention and control employee affirmed his trust in Chinese vaccines. He has been jabbed with Sinopharm and was to have his second shot eleven days later last Saturday. Sinopharm prescribes 28 days’ interval.

“It is possible that some irresponsible temporary employee made this user guide, which could have been wrongly written,” Tao speculated. “The user guide was dated Dec. 30 and may not be the final version; Sinopharm may improve it later,” the organ added. No comment from Sinopharm itself. Global Times and People’s Daily have claimed that COVID-19 did not originate but was brought into China.

Controversy swirled last month when President Rody Duterte said soldiers have been jabbed with Sinopharm. People asked why medical frontlines, the elderly, sickly and pregnant were not prioritized. Interior Sec. Ed Año averred that at least one Cabinet member was injected, plus the PSG. Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said the jabs were smuggled for a good cause: protect the Commander-in-Chief.

Customs and NBI are investigating who illicitly supplied and dispensed the doses. Vials reportedly are black-marketed in Manila for as high as P12,000 apiece. Chinese-Filipino NGO leader Teresita Ang See revealed that about a hundred thousand Chinoys and Chinese workers in online gaming operations have been injected. Beijing has reported the injecting of 1.5 million Chinese volunteers.

Senators are reviewing the government’s procurement and mass immunization plan. Duterte has barred the PSG from attending.

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“Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” is available as e-book and paperback. Purchase details when you subscribe to my newsletter here: https://jariusbondoc.com/#subscribe. Subscribers get a FREE copy of “Chapter 1: Beijing’s Bullying and Duplicity.”

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