Breaking: IATF OKs Sinovac use for healthcare workers — DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the recommendation to use Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine for healthcare workers, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced Friday.
In a press briefing, Vergeire said members of the IATF approved the recommendation of experts from the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and Department of Health-Technical Advisory Group (TAG) who recommended the use of Sinovac for healthcare workers.
“Just this morning we presented [the recommendation] to the IATF and we got the approval already. So this would also be presented to the President but right now we can see all of these members approved the NITAG recommendation already,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire said the health experts concluded that Sinovac vaccine “will be beneficial for the healthcare workers.”
Clinical trial data shows that the vaccine is 50 percent effective in preventing mild symptoms and 100 percent effective against moderate to severe symptoms.
“Given this evidence, the NITAG and the TAG have deemed it sufficient to recommend the use of the vaccine for healthcare workers as it bears to reiterate that our goal for prioritizing healthcare workers for vaccination is to reduce morbidity and mortality among their group while they maintain the most critical essential health services,” Vergeire said.
“Ultimately, the [emergency authorization use] of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes the safety and efficacy of Sinovac and our experts have ruled that Sinovac’s 100 percent efficacy rate in preventing moderate and severe cases is indeed sufficient to meet the goal of reducing deaths,” she added.
This recommendation, Vergeire said, has been approved by the IATF but still needs to be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The FDA earlier issued an EUA for Sinovac vaccine. However, the FDA also said the vaccine is not recommended to be administered to healthcare workers and senior citizens, who are the top priority population for the government’s vaccination program.
FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said the vaccine’s efficacy rate on healthcare workers stands at 50.4%, which makes it not the best vaccine to be given to medical frontliners who are exposed to Covid-19 patients.
But Vergeire clarified that this provision on the use of Sinovac vaccine for healthcare workers attending to Covid-19 patients included in the EUA granted for the vaccine “is not a contraindication nor a recommendation born of concern over the vaccine’s safety.”
“The DOH, the FDA, and our panel of experts concur that currently available evidence is enough to establish that the vaccine is safe for use,” Vergeire said.
“As the FDA has clarified, they included this specific provision not to question the vaccine’s safety but for the national government to consider that given the low reported efficacy in the specific recipient group, providing Sinovac vaccine to healthcare workers may not yield the most ideal results, hence may not be the most rational of this very limited resource given the context of limited vaccine supply,” she added.
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