MANILA (UPDATE) - The public must trust the Food and Drug Administration and the vaccine expert panel in its decision to approve Chinese inoculation Sinovac for emergency use but not recommend it for healthworkers, a pro-vaccination group said Tuesday.
The FDA on Monday granted Sinovac emergency use authorization as it has a 63 to 91 percent efficacy rate on members of the community who are not healthworkers, according to FDA director general Eric Domingo.
It however does not recommend the vaccine for healthworkers as a Brazil study showed only 50.4 percent efficacy rate for medical frontliners who deal with COVID-19, he said.
The public must trust the FDA's "very difficult" decision, according to Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination.
"As I have always mentioned we have to trust the experts, they're the ones looking at the data presented. It’s easy to make a judgment but it is not easy to look and pore over a scientific data," she told ANC's Headstart.
"Only the vaccine experts, the FDA have all the paperwork. I was told they even interviewed the vaccine trialist in Turkey, Brazil and Indonesia."
Government needs to fast track the approval of other vaccines as the country's initial supply from Pfizer has yet to arrive, said Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
"We need to look at these other brands, kasi the longer we wait na hindi maopen ang economy natin, magkakaroon talaga tayo ng economic depression. Kailangan lang mairegister lahat 'yan so the Filipinos will have plenty of choices. Dati kasi dadalawa lang ang choice mo wala ka pang supply," he told Headstart in a separate interview.
(We need to look at these other brands, because the longer we wait na hindi maopen an geconomy natin, to open our economy, the more likely we will have depression. These vaccines need to be registered so the Filipinos will have plenty of choices. Before you only have two brands and no supply.)
Essential workers are urged to get the Chinese vaccine to jumpstart immunization, Leachon added.
"I would encourage essential workers to go on Sinovac because 50 percent is the threshold given by the WHO. We don’t have any choice considering we need to move to perk up the economy," he said.
The best vaccine is the "one that will be available to you that is approved by the experts," Bravo said.
"You can wait for a year, 2 years but you cannot predict what would happen," she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to reject the proposal to place the country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and wait for the arrival of vaccine was "rational and logical," said Leachon.
"If we’re going to look at the health metrics I don’t think we’re ready for a modified GCQ," he said.
The country's COVID-19 cases and fatality rate is "increasing day to day," and the reproduction number is "quite high" at 1.22, he added.
"And then you have a threat of the variant and the vaccines are not yet available," he said.
The government earlier said 50 to 70 million Filipinos can be immunized against COVID-19 by yearend if vaccine supplies arrive on time.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., however, said procurement of the jabs was delayed over manufacturers’ concerns that the Philippines might sue them, just like it did with Sanofi over the Dengvaxia vaccines.