Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. today urged Filipinos to stop being obsessed over Western-made vaccine brands, as the public continues to shun China-made jabs such as CoronaVac, which is currently being used in the government’s inoculation program.

“That’s what I’m saying to our countrymen, that we shouldn’t be brand-conscious. All vaccines have their own [percentage] of efficacy,” he said in English and Filipino in an interview with news program Headstart. 

Read: Finally! PH begins COVID-19 vaccination after arrival of donated vials from China

Experts such as government adviser Dr. Edsel Salvaña have already said that Sinovac’s CoronaVac, despite its relatively low efficacy, will help prevent hospitalization and severe cases of COVID-19, the former military general said.

“Even if we get a cold, [even if] we have symptoms, it won’t become severe, lead to hospitalization or death. That’s what’s important,” Galvez said.

CoronaVac has been approved for emergency use in the Philippines by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but not for health workers who are exposed to the coronavirus. However, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group of the Department of Health contradicted the FDA and recommended the vaccine, saying that it was “safe” to use by frontliners.

Despite the assurance from the government, quite a number of medical workers have rejected CoronaVac, saying that they prefer to wait for other vaccine brands, such as the ones made by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca, because they have higher efficacy rates. As a consequence, even Filipinos who do not work in healthcare are wary of taking Sinovac.

Read: Sinovac’s COVID vax allowed for emergency use in PH, but not for healthcare workers

Galvez said, however, that the Philippines is having a hard time procuring Western-made brands.  In September, President Rodrigo Duterte called Western pharmaceutical companies “crazy” for asking for advance payments for their vaccines, because during that time, their effectiveness has yet to be proven.

“These three major brands, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna, Western countries are fighting over them. Seventy-five percent of global inoculation right now is being done by only 10 countries. Most Southeast Asian countries and developing countries are using Sinovac and Sputnik,” Galvez said.

Singapore has ordered vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Sinovac. Thailand has distributed CoronaVac and is waiting for vaccines from AstraZeneca. Indonesia, which has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, has inoculated its citizens with CoronaVac.

As of yesterday, the Philippines has recorded 580,442 cases, including 534,463 recoveries and 12,369 deaths.

 

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