Pfizer: Think hard about not getting vaccine
MANILA, Philippines — American pharmaceutical company Pfizer is asking people still wary of getting the vaccine against the new coronavirus to “think twice” should they opt not to be immunized as such a decision provides an opportunity for the infection to spread, endangering their loved ones and communities.
Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chair and CEO, said that while the company understands there may be some concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine being developed in record time, the public can be assured that Pfizer didn’t cut corners in developing it.
“We tested this vaccine in the exact same way we are testing any vaccine that is circulating out there. This vaccine actually was tested—because of the scrutiny—at even higher standards in terms of how we do things,” Bourla said in a briefing hosted by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.
95 percent effective
Of the three candidate vaccines whose manufacturers have released efficacy data from their clinical trials, the vaccine developed by Pfizer with Germany’s BioNTech had the highest efficacy rate of 95 percent.
Bourla noted that in developing the candidate COVID-19 vaccines, the entire pharmaceutical industry had been “extremely transparent” in releasing data and regulators as well had been “very careful” in assessing their findings.
Still, vaccine hesitancy remains a concern that the World Health Organization urged governments that interventions be provided at the “most local level possible” so that there is “accuracy in what people understand about the vaccines.”
In the Philippines, a recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that only 32 percent of Filipinos would “definitely” get the COVID-19 vaccine, while another 34 percent would “probably” have themselves vaccinated.
Bourla warned that if people opt out of the vaccination program, it’s not only their health that they put at risk.
“It’s affecting the health of others, likely the people you love and meet frequently. If you do not vaccinate you become the weak link that will allow the virus to replicate to those likely close in your environment,” he said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday said the Department of Health (DOH) was looking into a report that Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac bribed regulators in the past to secure approval for its vaccines.
“We are aware of this,” Duque said. “The prudent thing to do is to investigate, to validate. If true, then it’s up to the vaccine expert panel to put this in their final report, and also [the] FDA (Food and Drug Administration).”
Duque gave assurance that processes were in place to protect the public in such situations.
“This is why we also have the single joint ethics review board so that we can ensure that we will not fall prey to questionable transactions,” Duque said.
The Washington Post reported on Dec. 4 that Sinovac had been found to have a record of bribing Chinese drug regulators to secure approval for its vaccines, raising serious questions about its products’ safety. The Post said Sinovac “has acknowledged the bribery case involving its CEO, saying in regulatory filings that he cooperated with prosecutors and was not charged.”
“The CEO said in testimony he could not refuse demands for money from a regulatory official,” the Post said in the report.
Sinovac has a pending application to hold large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials for its candidate vaccine in the Philippines. It has already secured clearance from the vaccine expert panel, along with another Chinese drug maker, Clover Biopharmaceuticals.
The DOH said that as of Nov. 19, Sinovac’s contract research organization had committed that the company would “comply and respond to the clarifications and comments” of the ethics review board.
On Wednesday, DOH logged 1,387 additional coronavirus infections, raising the overall number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 444,164.
Batangas recorded the highest number of new infections (71), followed by Quezon City (70), Davao del Norte (64), Benguet (59) and Quezon province (57).
The DOH said 156 more patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of survivors to 408,942. But the death toll increased to 8,677 as seven more patients had succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 26,545 active cases, of which 85.2 percent were mild, 6.6 percent asymptomatic, 0.31 percent moderate, 2.7 percent severe, and 5.2 percent critical.
Daily positivity rate dropped to a seven-month low. Of the 26,851 samples tested by the accredited laboratories, only 1,038 came back positive, or a positivity rate of 3.9 percent.
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