Drilon: I don’t see how 50% efficacy can build public trust in vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon reminded the government on Friday to prioritize Filipinos’ safety, saying the efficacy rate of China’s Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine “pales in comparison” with other vaccines available.
Drilon made the remark after the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said that the 50 percent efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine of Sinovac is “acceptable” as it is within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) minimum requirement.
“We emphasize the urgency of procuring COVID-19 vaccines. We understand that the government may be trying to balance cost, efficacy, availability, and logistics complexity in determining which vaccines to bring in,” Drilon said in a statement.
“But safety and efficacy should be first and foremost. We should not sacrifice safety and efficacy. Otherwise, we run the risk of people refusing a COVID-19 vaccine out of fear,” he added.
Drilon said that while the 50 percent efficacy meets the minimum requirement for vaccines, it lags behind when compared with Pfizer and Moderna, and even Astra Zeneca.
“I do not see how 50% efficacy can build public trust and confidence in vaccines. Sinovac should be more transparent with their data,” Drilon said.
“Buhay at kinabukasan ng mga Pilipino ang pinag-uusapan natin dito, hindi natin tatanggapin ang salitang ‘pwede na’ pagdating sa usapin ng bakuna,” the senator added.
(We are talking about the lives and future of Filipinos here, so we cannot settle for “that’s okay” when it comes to the issue of the vaccine.)
Drilon said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez should carefully consider the results and wait for clearer guidelines from the scientific community and other authorizing agencies to determine whether Sinovac is worth offering to Filipinos.
“It is most important that we get our vaccination program started in 2021 with the best possible combination of vaccines we can procure. There is a global shortage of vaccines and we should focus on vaccinating our priority segments,” Drilon said.
“Herd immunity will require a multi-year vaccination program and over time, we can look to inoculate 60% or 90% of our total population. But our near term priority should be to vaccinate our frontliners and highest risk population, which is the first 20% of our people,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also said that an efficacy rate of 50 percent for a vaccine against coronavirus pandemic is “a joke” and is “totally unacceptable.” [ac]
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