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Public health experts reiterate calls for safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

#Viewpoint Episode Highlight

Public health experts on Saturday reiterated calls for safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, ahead of the vaccination rollout.

Speaking to Now You Know’s “Viewpoint,” University of the Philippines College of Medicine professor Dr. Gene Nisperos echoed the call of public health workers who raised doubts over the safety of Sinovac’s vaccine.

“‘Yung data kasi, nanggagaling mismo doon sa maker, sa Sinovac mismo, and that’s great. But we should not just rely on that. That data has to be vetted, peer-reviewed,” he said.

“All four vaccines have already published their phase 3 clinical trials or their preliminary analysis of those phase 3 clinical trials. But until now, Sinovac and many others including Sinopharm as well have not published any of this information,” said Dr. Joshua San Pedro, co-convenor of Coalition of People’s Right to Health.

San Pedro also questioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting of an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac despite its lack of published and peer-reviewed data on clinical trials.

“It begs the question, why is there seemingly an exemption for this specific vaccine that have actually been donated to the Philippines, all of a sudden we are facilitating the regulatory processes,” he added.

Citing the initial pronouncements of the Department of Health (DOH), San Pedro further pointed out that the concern of health workers “is not about the brand, but more about the data.”

“The DOH even released a list of those who are qualified to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and that really boosted the percentage of health workers that were willing to take the vaccine.”

“And when all of a sudden, they felt shortchanged, na biglang Sinovac na lang. You know the problem, ‘yung general statement that the government is telling people: Sige na tanggapin niyo na ‘yung Sinovac because it’s good enough, pwede na ‘yan,” added San Pedro.

Moving forward with the pandemic response, Nisperos said the government should hear more from not just from the experts but also from the health workers and the general public.

“It’s sad the townhall meeting came as an afterthought. Decisions should be consultative and inclusive.. We need to get everybody in the conversation, at the end of the day, sino ba ang babakunahan? ‘Di lang naman ang mga health workers kundi ang mamamayang Pilipino,” Nisperos said, referring to the town hall meeting initiated by the Philippine General Hospital on Saturday, February 27, to inform all of its health workers about the Sinovac vaccine.

DOH on Monday said more than 700 health workers have already been inoculated on the first day of COVID-19 vaccination using the donated doses from Sinovac.

The government targets to vaccinate more than 1 million health workers in March.

--- Watch the full episode of VIEWPOINT: On the Impending COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout | February 27, 2021

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