March 26, 2023

Because there are several brands of the vaccine to counter the Covid-19 that will continue to arrive in the country in the forthcoming months, those who are due to be inoculated have the tendency to select what brand should be used on them. Most, if not all, prefer the Western medicines. They discriminate against the Chinese and the Indian labels.
Although the initial doses that were administered among the frontlinters and other priority groups came from China, there was reluctance to use it at first since, well, it is “made in China” and people tend to have a prejudice against manufacturers from China.
Yet, due to the lack of any other choice and due to the emergency situation prevailing in the country, the Chinese vaccines were administered with not much fuzz and frenzy. Besides, it would seem obvious that it will take a vaccine from China to cure a virus that originated from the same country. Still, the notoriety of Chinese products remains etched in our conscience. We expect a far better treatment.
The coming weeks will see the arrival of other brands of vaccines, so it was assured by authorities. The government made known that it has signed several agreements with companies from the United States, Germany, and United Kingdom to obtain supplies of various brands to be used among the Filipino people.
In fact, some of these are already in use by private corporations that were given clearance to purchase on their own. With this, those who have not yet have their jabs are expectant that what will be used on them will be the “superior brands.”
Are there really anti-Covid-19 vaccines that are superior to the others? Is it true that those produced by manufacturers from the U.S. or U.K. or Germany are better than those manufactured from China or India? Are all vaccines created equal? If so, when then is it that people would rather gravitate toward the use of the Western brands. I for one, if given a choice, prefer to be injected with the Western vaccine.
Maybe, it is in allowing us the freedom of choice that we tend to discriminate against other brands. Maybe, it is in our knowledge that there are other medicines that are arriving that would rather reserve the best for us. We have been so used to Western medicines that it had become our choice of relief every time we get sick. It is no different with this pandemic.
Aside from the efficacy of the vaccines as published, there is also the so-called “placebo effect.” It is how our mind and body react to medicines. Sometimes, even if the medicine is less efficacious, if our mind says it is curing us, it becomes an instant tonic. And, sometimes, even if the medicine is very potent if our mind says it is not, it will not cure. Hence, the effectiveness of a medicine is a combination of science and consciousness. That is why even if science tells us that anti-Covid-19 vaccines from China are as curative as all others, if our consciousness tells us that Western brands are better, there will be a difference once the two are administered.
This is not to say that Chinese brands should be discarded in lieu of Western brands. The Philippines cannot afford this luxury. We are not equipped with resources to be selective. As the saying goes, “Beggars cannot not choosers.” Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that what will be used on us will be the Western brand.
Hence, to avoid this discrimination, it might help if those being inoculated will be kept in the dark on what brand of vaccines will be used on them. The Department of Health, upon taking hold of the vaccines, might opt to remove the labels and distribute it to local government units and hospitals without regard to brand or name. It will eliminate the tendency to compare and discriminate. In like manner, it will avoid the politics of vaccination.