‘No pickiness,’ just accept Sinovac with 50% efficacy

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2021 - 12:00am

Sinovac has 50 percent efficacy versus COVID-19. Half a population vaccinated with it can become immune. That’s low. Other inoculants notched 70 to 95 percent efficacy.

It boils down to this. Half a family injected with Sinovac may not be protected. After their shots they will think themselves safe to gather. One spreader is all it takes. Every other attendee can be infected and die. “Cara y cruz” or toss coin, as a tweet goes.

Sinovac’s clinical trials in Brazil were misleading. Partial results on a small group of medical workers prematurely were released with 78 percent efficacy. Then came the complete outcome: 50.4 percent.

Field results in Turkey hit 98 percent efficacy. But Sinovac has not published any data for peer review as required of vaccine developers. Three million of 125.5 million Sinovac vials have arrived in Indonesia. Only the socially mobile and economically active, age 18-59, are to be jabbed two doses each. Clinical trials there involved only that age bracket; the elderly, sickly, pregnant and youngsters were excluded. Claimed efficacy: 65 percent.

Sinovac is one of three China makers of serums against the coronavirus from Wuhan. Like Sinopharm and CanSino, its tests are politicized for Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy.” Communist rulers aim to live down the Wuhan origin of the global pandemic by trumpeting superiority in medicine technology. Blunting their ploy, however, is the trio’s notoriety in test opacity. Sinovac has a black mark of bribing regulators.

But don’t be picky, says Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque. Sinovac is the only inoculant arriving in the Philippines before June. It’s the only one government procurers supposedly signed up so far. Only after it was contracted did it apply for emergency use authority.

Roque also speaks for the Cabinet-level Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. That includes the National Implementing Task Force of “vaccine czar” Sec. Carlito Galvez. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez are rushing to bring in Western brands. All have better efficacies: Pfizer, 95 percent; Moderna, 94; AstraZeneca, 70. Roque seems to downplay their efforts.

Limiting Filipinos to Sinovac does not help build trust in mass immunization. Half of those surveyed don’t want to be injected; only one in three is willing. That distrust will mean more infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Filipinos will stay in self-isolation. The economy will continue to stagnate.

If you don’t get your Sinovac jab, somebody else will, Roque says. That dents the right to free and informed choice. He won’t entertain questions either. When Dr. Tony Leachon blogged about the odd preference for the vaccine with the lowest efficacy, that former president of the Philippine College of Physicians got an earful.

A double dose of Sinovac costs P3,629.50. AstraZeneca’s jab, similarly made of inactivated virus, is five times cheaper at P610, according to studies of Sen. Sonny Angara. Pfizer’s, made of messenger RNA, is P2,379. Upcoming alternatives are Novavax, P366; Johnson & Johnson, P480; Gamaleya, P1,220; COVAX with World Health Organization, P854.

Government has only P12.5 billion cash for mass inoculation; P70 billion more will be borrowed. Cost includes training, personal protective equipment and supplies for 25,000 vaccinators. Wastage can reach 15 percent. Bulk of that money will go to Sinovac yet the Chinese firm is reportedly demanding price confidentiality in its supply deal.

Ten million Filipinos can be vaccinated with Sinovac’s 20 million vials. Given 50 percent efficacy, only five million may become immune.

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Say a prayer please for the eternal repose of the soul of Fr. Franz-Josef Eilers, PhD. The German missionary to Asia passed away Jan. 13 in Manila at age 89. He will be missed by Christians who write about or put spirituality in their writings.

Fr. Eilers was the Catholic Church’s prime luminary on social communications in Asia. His books “Communicating in Community” and “Communicating in Ministry and Mission” are guides for bishops, priests and laymen. He was consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication at the Vatican in 1973-1988 and 1996-2011.

Born 1932 in Emsdetten, Germany and ordained in 1959, Fr. Eilers spent most of his priesthood in the Philippines. He honed top homilists in communications and missiology at the Society of Divine Word School of Theology, Tagaytay. He also taught at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and the University of the Philippines in Los Baños. He was executive director of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communication at St. John’s University. Bangkok, Thailand. Also former executive secretary for the Office of Social Communication of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, at Radio Veritas, Quezon City.

Most of all, he was a friend and adviser.

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“Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” is available as e-book and paperback. Get a free copy of “Chapter 1: Beijing’s Bullying and Duplicity”. Simply subscribe to my newsletter at: https://jariusbondoc.com/#subscribe. Orders also accepted there.

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