DOH-7: Authorization, not brand, determines vaccine’s safety

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - February 25, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Regardless of the brand, vaccines are deemed safe as long as they are granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drugs Administration, the Department of Health-7 said yesterday.

“Vaccines are safe once they are given the go signal by the technical group and vaccine expert panel and when given an emergency use authority,” said DOH-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche when asked to comment on the safety of Chinese vaccine Sinovac.

To this day, Cebu City has yet to decide on what COVID-19 vaccines to procure.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama earlier said it is hard to decide on vaccine procurement when there is no consensus yet as to the brand of vaccine to be purchased.

So far, the Philippines has granted EUAs to three vaccine brands – Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac.

Loreche cited reports of the alleged low efficacy of Sinovac, such as in Brazil, but she said that even with a 50% efficacy, it is still safe.

It was reported that overall in Brazil, studies showed that Sinovac is 50% effective in preventing patients from contracting the disease, including very mild cases, although not asymptomatic ones.

The trial, which was used on 12,500 volunteers, did not produce any adverse effects or significant allergic reactions.

Loreche said that since an EUA was given to Sinovac, then it is deemed safe and is better to be administered to a person than not having protection at all.

In Central Visayas, among the first recipients of the vaccine would be the frontliners of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City. It is not clear yet, though, what vaccine brand will be inoculated to them.

VSMMC is one of the priorities in the vaccination program of the national government, it being a COVID-19 government hospital.

The science behind

According to the World Health Organization, vaccines reduce risks of getting a disease by working with the body’s natural defenses to build protection. When a person gets a vaccine, his or her immune system responds.

It recognizes the invading germ, such as the virus or bacteria, and produces antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced naturally by the immune system to fight disease.

The immune system then remembers the disease and how to fight it. If the person is then exposed to the germ in the future, his or her immune system can quickly destroy it before you become unwell.

The vaccine, WHO says, is therefore a safe and clever way to produce an immune response in the body, without causing illness.

"Our immune systems are designed to remember. Once exposed to one or more doses of a vaccine, we typically remain protected against a disease for years, decades or even a lifetime. This is what makes vaccines so effective. Rather than treating a disease after it occurs, vaccines prevent us in the first instance from getting sick," WHO adds. —  JMD (FREEMAN)

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