Duque amid questions on China COVID-19 vaccine: Trust screening process

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2020 05:42 PM | Updated as of Dec 16 2020 06:09 PM

Video courtesy of the Department of Health

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said China’s COVID-19 vaccine would undergo a strict screening process in the country like other vaccine candidates, quelling the public’s fear regarding its efficacy and safety. 

In a press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the public should trust the screening process of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

“Mayroon tayong nakatakdang proseso, at dapat sundin 'yan, respetuhin ang DOST, ang kanilang vaccine panel, sila po ang sumusuri ng lahat ng scientific evidence para patunayan na itong mga bakuna ay ligtas, may dekalidad at epektibo, at kaya na implement, ipatupad,” Duque said when asked about his thoughts on Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

(We have a process, and it should be followed. We should also respect DOST and its vaccine panel because they screen all the scientific evidence to prove that these vaccines are safe, of quality and it could be implemented.)

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said the country is eyeing to secure 25 million doses of the said vaccine for next year, as it finalizes negotiations with the firm.

But the legitimacy of Sinovac products was recently questioned after the Washington Post reported that the company's chief executive officer admitted to bribery.

Duque, meanwhile, said after DOST’s evaluation, the vaccine would need approval from the Single Joint Research Ethics Board and the Food and Drug Administration. 

“Ang FDA ang magsasagawa ng regulatory and technical evaluation. 'Yan ang mangyayari. Dadaan pa pala ito sa health technology assessment council, under the Universal Health Care Law. Mandated ang HTAC (Health Technology Assessment Council) [to make] an assessment on a set of literal parameters,” he said. 

(FDA will head the regulatory and technical evaluation. The vaccine would also undergo the screening of HTAC.) 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire echoed Duque, saying that no Filipino will be inoculated by an unsafe coronavirus vaccine. 

“It has to go through the regulatory process… And only those who would pass the regulatory process would be made available and given to the recipients of the population,” said Vergeire. 

Sinovac said on Nov. 18 that mid-stage trial results showed Sinovac’s CoronaVac shot triggered a quick immune response and interim data from its late stage trial could come this year.

China's Sinovac appears to be the second most expensive COVID-19 vaccine based on initial estimates, as it is expected to be priced at P3,629.50 for 2 doses.