The right to choose

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - January 17, 2021 - 12:00am

Everyone has the right to choose the product they want to use or buy. Period. Even if a product is being given free and not forced upon. This is even more important when it comes to health. So I do not understand presidential spokesman Roque's statement that "people should not be choosy with the vaccine being given by the government for free". This administration believes they can say and do whatever they want and should not be questioned.

But at the Senate inquiry on the government's vaccination plan, they questioned why the government seems to be blocking the private sector as well as local government units from acquiring vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies aside from Sinovac. If the private sector or the local government is willing to pay for the vaccines, why not allow them? Is it because the vaccine from China is the only vaccine this administration wants to introduce into the country?

According to government officials who attended the Senate inquiry, no pharmaceutical company will directly get in touch with a private company. Only government-to-government talks are allowed. If so, why not allow them to? Why is it difficult for other companies aside from China to get vaccines into the country? It seems the government is monopolizing the vaccine market. Recently in Brazil, clinical trials show the vaccine from Sinovac has an efficacy rate of only 50.4%. Brazil ranks third in the number of COVID-19 cases in the world but second in the number of deaths. The government has supposedly obtained 25 million doses of the vaccine from Sinovac, with about 50,000 arriving this February. But some local governments such as Caloocan, San Juan, Vigan, and Iloilo have already signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy their vaccine, but they still need a blessing from the administration.

Based on an OCTA Research investigation conducted last Dec. 9-13, only one in four Filipinos was willing to get vaccinated once it becomes available. The investigation did not reveal the reasons why more people do not want to be vaccinated. One of the reasons may be the low efficacy rate of the Chinese vaccine this administration wants to bring in. Perhaps this is why some local governments are working to get vaccines from other companies which, according to the senators, should be allowed by the government and not "play god".

If the government's immunization program against COVID-19 is to be successful, the people must first have confidence in any vaccine that enters the country. It is not a question of being "choosy" but the knowledge and the assurance the vaccine will work. As Sen. Lacson said, "cockiness has no place in a pandemic situation."

Like Roque would even care.

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