Safety and effectiveness

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - December 9, 2020 - 12:00am

A vaccine against COVID-19. Now that companies are ready to offer, perform clinical trials, and sell their vaccines, countries are lining up to receive them. Indonesia has already received 1.2 million doses of a vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech company. They are in now the process of setting up a national vaccination program. Some will receive the vaccine for free, while some will pay for it. Another 1.8 million doses will arrive in January. The UK is also ready to roll out a vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech.

It so happens an article recently appeared in the Washington Post revealing a history of bribery by Sinovac Biotech. The company has a record of "bribing Chinese drug regulators to secure vaccine approvals, which had raised serious questions about its products' safety". Sinovac Biotech is one of the companies being considered by the administration to supply a COVID-19 vaccine. Other companies are Sinopharm and Clover from China, Gamaleya from Russia, Janssen from Belgium, Astra Zeneca from the UK. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which is supposedly 90% effective requires it to be stored at -70 to -80 degrees Centigrade. At present, the country does not have that kind of cold storage capability. Pfizer/BioNTech may provide the required storage facility for its vaccine. Let's hope that pans out. 90% of effectiveness is very acceptable. In my opinion, this is the vaccine the government should acquire.

The question is, are you ready to get vaccinated? Do you feel assured of the safety and effectiveness of the different vaccines that may be coming into the country? Sen. Bong Go challenged DOH Sec. Duque at vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to be the first to be vaccinated to assure the people of the safety of the vaccine. Duque agreed and challenged all cabinet members to do the same. Nothing from anyone else yet. I talked to quite a several people who have expressed an unwillingness to be vaccinated for now. Some feel the vaccines were developed too quickly, some ask if the companies can assure the absence of side effects while there are those asking if the protection is long-term, even lifelong. I can only surmise the cautionary approach of many is due to the Dengvaxia issue which I believe was politicized.

The government's target is to vaccinate 60-70 million people to achieve herd immunity, leading to the natural demise of the virus. That would be ideal. I only hope the health officials study and thoroughly examine the vaccines being offered to the country. Only the people should benefit and not the companies, specifically the country of origin of the vaccine. The safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are paramount, nothing else. A company with a jaded past should not even be considered.

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