MANILA—Medical groups on Friday criticized health officials over their supposed "double standards" for agreeing to have some health workers inoculated with China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, amid reports of its low efficacy.
In a joint statement, the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists Inc. (PAMET) and the Philippine Society of Pathologists Inc. (PSP) blasted Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo and Dr. Lulu Bravo, chairman of the National Adverse Events Following Immunization committee, supposedly because of the officials' remarks on the matter.
The groups described the role of clinicians as crucial in the hospital setting.
"There is no other field in medicine where one is constantly exposed to blood, body fluids, or tissues than those earnestly working in the laboratory upon request of clinicians. This cannot be overemphasized," the statement read.
"With all these situations, persisting in calling medical technologists and pathologists as not worthy of being called frontliners is a huge disservice to the hard work and sacrifices they do in this critical period."
Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended for health workers, the FDA said, following the announcement of the product's approval for emergency use in the country.
Domingo said that Phase III clinical trials done in Brazil showed that Sinovac's vaccine only has 50.4% efficacy rate on health workers, which is why it was not allowed to be used on frontline medical workers directly dealing with COVID-19 patients.
Bravo, meanwhile, in a separate television interview on Monday, said it was recommended to her that "it would be better to give it (Sinovac vaccine) to those who are not exactly doing patient care" which included medical technologists, pathologists, and those working in the laboratory.
But the medical associations disagreed with their statements, and said Sinovac should not be allowed to be given to any health frontliner at all.
They also pointed out that Domingo and Bravo's statements were "discriminatory" to workers in the medical field.
"To say that these two groups of medical frontliners are not at high risk of infection is disingenuous at best and ignorant at worst," they said.
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"[It] smacks a double standard and betrays their lack of understanding of what roles these two groups play in the entire healthcare system . . . We call an end to this discriminatory attitude," they added.
The interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) earlier in the day announced its recommendation to use Sinovac's vaccine for health workers, despite FDA's earlier reservations.
Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine will be the first to be rolled out in the Philippines. First in line are health workers in COVID-dedicated hospitals.