MANILA — The reported 50-percent efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac is "acceptable" as this is the minimum requirement for use, the Department of Science and Technology said on Thursday.
A newspaper in Brazil, where late-stage trials of the Sinovac vaccine are running, reported that the drug was over 50% effective. The vaccine is among those the Philippines is eyeing to procure for inoculations here.
“The 50-percent efficacy is acceptable because that is the minimum requirement set by the World Health Organization for a vaccine to be used by the country,” said Jaime Montoya, executive director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
“We have to also bear in mind that the vaccine efficacy may actually change, it may go up or it may go down, as more and more people are using it when they are actually rolled out,” he said.
The reported efficacy is for "overall" participants and could be higher "if we actually break them down into groups," he said.
“Maybe it is more effective in a particular group of people – maybe health care workers, maybe in the elderly, maybe with those with co-existing morbidity so we have to look at them,” Montoya said. “So we have to also look at where they are actually going to be most useful, in what group, before we can actually make a decision.”
“Until such time na na-review natin ang (that we review) data, we cannot make any conclusion,”
Other vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna, which reported 95 and 94.5 percent efficacy, respectively, have secured emergency use authorization (EUA) in the US, said Montoya.
“If they are going to pursue their application here in the Philippines for the EUA… then malamang sila ang mauuna maging (they will likely be first to become) available,” he said.
“If we are given a choice and we have to prioritize, of course, definitely the vaccine efficacy [that] is higher would be the preferred vaccine,” added the official.
The Philippines, which has tallied some 464,000 coronavirus infections, is eyeing 4 vaccines for use in the first quarter of 2021, including Russia's Gamaleya Institute and China's Sinovac, Sinopharm and CanSino.