Facts don't match on Duterte's new claim that COVID-19 vaccine is 'already here, being sold'
Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - November 10, 2020 - 11:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday stuck to a tune he has repeatedly sung over the course of the coronavirus crisis: pinning his hopes on a possible vaccine and now erroneously claiming that it is already available and being sold. 

In his weekly address, the president said the threat of the virus that has gripped the world and the nation hard is now less terrifying as he said China and America now have the vaccines. 

"Andito na ang bakuna. It's being sold," Duterte claimed. "'Yung sa iba, I don't know [but] it could be not good to assume that there's a black market for that... China and Pfizer of America, meron na sila so hindi na talaga nakatatakot ang COVID."

(The vaccine is already here and it is being sold. The others, I don't know but it would not be good to assume that there is a black market for that. China and Pfizer of America already have it, so the COVID-19 is actually less scarier.) 

The American pharmaceutical company, however, had said that while its vaccine candidate was found 90% effective in the Phase 3 of its clinical trials, it has yet to submit an emergency use authorization to the US Food and Drug Administration.

It has also said that its trials will continue to the final analysis of 164 virus patients for further data collection as well as to "characterize the vaccine candidate's performance against other study endpoints."

Trials for China's Sinovac, meanwhile, was halted in Brazil after regulators in the country cited an "adverse incident" involving a volunteer patient. 

The company has applied to hold the same trials here in the Philippines, hurdling the initial stage of the screening by Food and Drug Administration officials. 

Duterte in the same address told the public that government will borrow up to $300 million or P14.5 billion for the purchase of the vaccines, vowing to prioritize the most vulnerable to the disease as well as the marginalized.

Agence France-Presse has reported that Sinovac has stood by the safety of its vaccines, but this development, along with that of Pfizer's, only shows that Duterte's claim runs counter with the situation on the ground. 

His envoy to Washington, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, had said too earlier today that possible vaccines from the US drugmaker could be in the country by early 2021 "at the latest."

Duterte in his previous speeches —  even in his State of the Nation Address in July —  repeatedly claimed that a vaccine is "just around the corner" as he sought to reassure Filipinos that government is on top of the ongoing health crisis. 

The administration, however, has shunned calls for mass testing, with groups taking the petition to compel government before the Supreme Court, only to be struck down by the high tribunal. 

In the past months, officials had changed course as well in managing the coronavirus crisis, from telling people to stay indoors to now encouraging more people to come out in a bid to revive the economy.

Government has since increased the capacities of business establishments, public transport, churches and hotels, as well as opening up major tourist destinations. 

To date, Philippine coronavirus infections are at the brink of reaching 400,000 as of November 10, many months since the first infection was reported. COVID-19 has taken the lives of 7,661 Filipinos to date, while 361,919 were reported to have since recovered. 

The country is 25th in the world in the most number of cases, and it is second in Southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia's more than 440,000.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 25, 2020 - 10:47am

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

November 25, 2020 - 10:47am

The United States plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the first week after it is cleared for emergency use, which is likely next month, officials say Tuesday.

A committee of the Food and Drug Administration meets on December 10 to decide whether to green light the medicine, with the US confronted by soaring numbers of deaths and new cases.

Latest figures on Tuesday showed that the country had recorded a total of 259,600 COVID deaths and 12.5 million cases — with over 2,000 deaths and 167,000 new cases in just the last 24 hours.

General Gustave Perna, chief operations officer for the government's Operation Warp Speed, told reporters some 40 million doses of vaccine would be available by the end of December.

That figure includes another vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes for Health, which announced some preliminary efficacy results last week and is also close to applying for emergency approval. — AFP

November 25, 2020 - 10:33am

The United States plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the first week after it is cleared for emergency use, which is likely next month, officials say.

A committee of the Food and Drug Administration meets on December 10 to decide whether to green light the medicine, with the US confronted by soaring numbers of deaths and new cases. — AFP 

November 24, 2020 - 6:48pm

Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective according to a second interim analysis of clinical trial data, its developers said on Tuesday.

The calculations were based on preliminary data obtained 42 days after the first dose, Russia's health ministry, the state-run Gamaleya research centre and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement. 

They did not note the number of cases used to make the calculation, however. — AFP

November 23, 2020 - 5:20pm

European stock markets opened firmer Monday, buoyed as positive news on another coronavirus vaccine trial helped offset concerns over soaring case numbers, dealers said.

In London, the FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up 0.5 percent at 6,382.36 points.

In the Eurozone, the Paris CAC 40 gained nearly one percent to 5,543.83 points and the Frankfurt DAX put on 0.6 percent to 13,219.25 points.

Shortly before the markets opened, British drugs group AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said their jointly-developed vaccine against COVID-19 has shown "an average efficacy of 70 percent" in trials, and up to 90 percent in one dosage combination. — AFP

November 23, 2020 - 10:34am

The United States hopes to begin coronavirus vaccinations in early December, a top government health official said Sunday, the latest positive news to emerge even as cases surge across the worst-hit nation and elsewhere around the globe.

The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial shift in the battle against a virus that has claimed more than 1.4 million lives worldwide, including 255,000 just in the US, since emerging from China late last year.

Encouraging results from vaccine trials have bolstered hopes for an end to the pandemic, as nations reimpose restrictions and lockdowns that slowed the spread earlier this year but turned lives and economies upside down across the globe. — AFP

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