Public health expert says Duterte 'should be given script' about COVID-19 vaccine


Posted at Sep 16 2020 12:49 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the public after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Sept. 14, 2020. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo

MANILA - A public health expert on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte should be "given a script" regarding vaccine development during his public briefings in order to avoid confusion amid growing expectations of a COVID-19 vaccine within the year.

Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, urged Filipinos to listen to experts about the process of making a vaccine, saying it is a complex undertaking that may take years to ensure its safety and efficacy.

"Nagkaroon ng meeting sa DOH (Department of Health), 'yun din ang sinabi ko, sana nga bigyan na lang natin ng script ang Pangulo tungkol sa mga ganitong vaccine development. Hindi madaling intindihin 'yung vaccine development," she told Teleradyo's "SRO".

Bravo's appeal came a day after Duterte said his administration would prioritize potential COVID-19 vaccines made by drugmakers from China and Russia.

She said that a non-expert's explanation on such topic may only sow confusion.

"Kasi nga mahirap i-explain. Sabi nga ng iba, 'pag pinag-uusapan na 'yang tungkol sa mga mikrobyo, sa germs, paano gagawa ng bakuna, ay talagang duduguin ka. Kasi mahirap isipin kung paano gagawain 'yan," she said.

Bravo, who has been doing vaccine trials in the country for decades, also offered her group's expertise to the President.

"Kaya 'pag minsan 'pag medyo nagkamali ka ng nasabi mo, nako-confuse ang tao. Sabi nga natin, mas mabuti ang nage-explain sa atin ay 'yun talagang eksperto at gumagawa ng vaccine trial kasi kung hindi ka eksperto at hindi gumagawa ng vaccine trial, minsan medyo namamali 'yung nasasabi mo," she said.

Laboratories around the world are racing to find a vaccine to rein in COVID-19, which has infected almost 30 million people and killed more than 929,000, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization said in early September that 34 vaccine candidates worldwide are currently in the various phases of being tested on humans, while a further 142 are in pre-clinical evaluation.

To date, the Philippines has recorded 269,407 coronavirus infections, with 57,392 active cases. The tally also includes 4,663 people who succumbed to the disease while 207,352 were declared to have recovered.

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