Don't prejudge Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, expert group says

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 03 2021 12:41 PM

Don't prejudge Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, expert group says 1
Health workers from Sta. Ana Hospital administer the Sinovac vaccine, CoronaVac, to fellow health workers from different hospitals in Manila on March 2, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The country's largest coalition of health groups and frontliners on Wednesday urged the public not to prejudge Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, which they fear may affect the country's vaccine rollout against the disease.

"Merong tinatawag na (there's something called) Sinophobia, that it's made in China. Therefore, it's part of the vaccine diplomacy, they have many to gain from the country," Dr. Antonio Dans, convenor of Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19, told ANC.

"I don't think we should prejudge the vaccine as a bad vaccine and just a tool for diplomacy. I don't think we should prejudge it at all."

The Chinese-made anti-coronavirus shots, known as CoronaVac, is undergoing evaluation by the Health Technology Assessment Council and results are expected to be released in a few days, Dans said.

The HTAC, an independent advisory body under the Department of Health, undertake technology appraisals by determining their clinical and economic values in the the country's health-care system. Ethical, legal, social and health system implications are also considered in the assessments.

"Mas mahirap ang ginagawang assessment ng HTAC. Kasi it's not just the submission of the manufacturer that they assess. They also look for other literature around the world. You know in COVID-19, there's 1 article published every 3 mins. We've never seen anything like that," Dans said.

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The HTAC assessment, he said, will help allay concerns of those who are hesitant of getting CoronaVac. The advisory body is composed of 9 different experts such as public health epidemiologist, health economist, clinical trial expert, clinical epidemiologist, and public health expert.

"The Healthcare Professionals Alliance (Against COVID-19) did not object to the rollout but we did plead for Health Technology Assessment Council recommendation kasi para sa mga hesitant 'yan. Many people are questioning the process and full feature of the vaccine," Dans added.

The Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine obtained regulatory approval for emergency use from the Food and Drug Administration. The regulator initially did not recommend it for health-care workers highly exposed to the disease due to lower efficacy rate of 50.4 percent.

The country on Monday begun its COVID-19 vaccination drive, a day after some 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccine arrived from China.

Over 700 medical workers, cops and soldiers were first in line to receive the shots to avert developing severe disease from the virus.