The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed the administration of the coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech to frontline medical workers.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said yesterday that the IATF-EID approved the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group’s (Nitag) and the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group’s recommendation for the use of Sinovac vaccines for healthcare workers.
Roque, in a press statement, ensured that the use of Covid-19 vaccines from Sinovac is “safe and beneficial to our health care workers.”
“The Palace welcomes the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to use Sinovac for health care workers,” he said. “As we have said (on) many occasions, health care workers are the most critical front-liners in our fight against Covid-19 and they remain at the top of our priority list for vaccination.”
Roque expressed optimism that many healthcare workers would volunteer to get inoculated with Sinovac vaccines.
The willingness of medical front-liners to be vaccinated, he said, would help boost Filipinos’ confidence in receiving vaccine jabs.
“The Sinovac vaccine is expected to arrive on Sunday, Feb. 28, and we are confident that many of our health care workers would get themselves inoculated to boost public confidence in our mass vaccination program against the coronavirus,” Roque said.
Results of clinical trials found that Sinovac has a 91.2-percent efficacy rate among clinically healthy individuals aged 18 years to 59 years, and a 50.4-percent efficacy rate among healthcare workers exposed to Covid-19.
Roque on Wednesday said the government decided to administer the Sinovac vaccine to “economic front-liners” belonging to the 18- to 59-year age group.
He, however, said the government would not compel medical front-liners to receive vaccine shots from Sinovac.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to lead a simple turnover ceremony of the initial 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine tomorrow.
Meanwhile, experts from the government and the private sector have recommended the use of the Sinovac vaccine, known commercially as CoronaVac, for healthcare workers, noting its “100 percent efficacy” in preventing moderate to severe symptoms of the Covid-19.
In a virtual presser, DOH Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the vaccine was “thoroughly reviewed” by the department, the Food and Drug Administration, the Nitag, and the DOH Technical Advisory Group.
“The EUA (Emergency Use Authority) of 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 – protections that we want to afford foremost to our health care workers,” Vergeire said.
The vaccine, she said, was found to be 50 percent effective in preventing mild symptoms and was recommended for “clinically healthy individuals ages 18 to 59.”
Dr. Maria Consorcia Quizon, a member of Nitag, said healthcare workers who wish to skip Sinovac and wait for a different brand of vaccine may do so, noting that they will remain a priority for the next batch of vaccines.
“Even if we roll out these vaccines, we will ask for consent and it’s up to the person to receive it or not,” Quizon said.
Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, a member of TAG, said the 600,000 doses of vaccine that the country is set to receive would first be offered to healthcare workers, currently estimated at 1.2 million, and would then be made available to other front-line workers aged 18 years to 59 years. Lim said the vaccine would not be administered to senior citizens.*PNA