Palace spokesperson Harry Roque is under fire lately for saying, “Hindi naman pwede na pihikan ang mga Pinoy sa brand ng bakuna na ituturok sa kanila. Totoo na meron tayong lahat karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan, pero hindi naman pupuwede na pihikan. Napakadaming Pilipino na dapat turukan. Walang pilitan sakaling ayaw ng indibidwal na magpaturok ng bakunang ibibigay sa kaniya. Tama lang naman po ‘yan, walang pilitan kasi hindi naman natin mako-control talaga kung ano’ng darating at libre po ito.”
Public health expert and former Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases consultant Dr. Tony Leachon said Roque’s remarks were unfair that Filipinos cannot be choosy.
It is enshrined in the constitution that health is a basic right and the state should promote the wellness of its people. The choice of vaccine is a concern of individuals and for public health and safety. The state ensures a safe and healthful nation by affording its people full protection against all hazards in their environment, protect every one against injury, sickness or death through safe and healthful measures and prevention of loss or damage to lives.
The point of contention is that without application and approval of an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has ordered almost 25 million doses of Sinovac, with 50,000 doses set to arrive in the country on Feb. 20.
Vaccines from China’s Sinovac will solely be used in the Philippines by next month until June as per Roque.
Right now, we hear that its efficacy rate is only 50 percent and we are consolidating its trial data from Brazil and Turkey, which is likewise dim. He said it is also waiting for China to allow the drug’s general use and exportation.
The Chinese company has not yet submitted its application to FDA, which is a step required for the vaccines to be approved for legal distribution in the country. It normally takes the FDA 21 days to review an application so if it is due to arrive on Feb. 20, are we to assume na tapos na ang boxing? Why the seeming preference for Sinovac despite its cost and low efficacy rate in clinical trials, obviously the “chosen one”? Agaammu tayon! Why not Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Moderna?
Galvez said he secured the “best price” for CoronaVac made by Sinovac through the help of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian but based on data released by Sen. Sonny Angara’s office, Sinovac is the second most expensive vaccine at P3,629 for two doses – six times more expensive than AstraZeneca when it has less than 60 percent efficacy compared to AstraZeneca’s 70 percent. Pfizer is P2,379; Gamaleya P1,220; Coxas Facility P854; AstraZeneca P610; and Novavax P386. Why then can’t we be choosy, just because it is supposed to be free?
Vice Ganda sums it all up “sabong panlaba nga choosy tayo, sa bakuna pa kaya?” Sigh.