Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, reiterated that the vaccines deployed in the country are safe and effective, regardless of brand, since all have passed through the standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Secretary Roque said that while the government respects individual preference, he explained that some vaccine brands remain elusive for developing nations like the Philippines.
“Sino ba ang ayaw ng Western brands? Ang problema lang talaga hindi natin nakukuha ang suplay. We ordered 40 million pero nakikita nyo naman they come in trickles, ang dumadating pa mga COVAX supply, yung mga donated. Pero yung mga binibili natin talagang they’ve been coming in trickles,” said Roque.
The Palace official added that the Philippines is not alone in this predicament. “Kaya nga po doon sa kampanya ko doon sa International Law Commission, sinasabi ko dapat may tratado na kikilalanin ng mga bansa sa buong daigdig yung vaccine equality na dapat lahat magkaroon ng bakuna pero hindi pa po yan nangyayari. Sa ngayon po lahat po ng pag-aaral ay nagpapakita na pati po ang Sinovac, ang mga Chinese vaccines, ay epektibo laban sa seryosong pagkakasakit at laban po sa kamatayan dulot ng COVID-19,” Sec Roque said.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana affirmed the the Palace spokesperson’s statement and said that the Chinese brands Sinopharm and Sinovac are both included in the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing. This proves that these vaccines are safe and effective, said Dr. Salvana.
Citing local data released by the FDA as of August 29, 2021, Salvana said that out of 13.87-M fully vaccinated individuals, the number of breakthrough cases is only 242 or .0017 percent breakthrough infections.
Salvana emphasized that this data prove that the vaccines are indeed working as studies have shown that all approved vaccines with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are effective against severe disease and are 90 percent effective in decreasing the risk of dying and hospitalization.
Dr. Salvana also underscored that the real cause of breakthrough infections is not because vaccine efficacy or immunity is waning but because of the characteristic of the Delta variant. Salvana added that while clinical efficacy of vaccines is lower at 30 to 40 percent against the Delta variant, all vaccines remain effective against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
Meanwhile, Roque mentioned that a total of 41,793,930 vaccine doses have now been administered nationwide as of September 20, 2021 data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard. Of this number, 18,823,718 individuals are now fully vaccinated, which is 24.4 percent of the target eligible population.
For the National Capital Region (NCR), there are now 14,873,731 total vaccines administered as of September 19, 2021. Of this number, 6,603,149 are fully vaccinated or 67.54% of the target eligible population, said Roque.
On the NCR nearly reaching 70% full vaccination of its target population, molecular biologist Rev. Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said that while there is still uncertainty due to the Delta virus, what experts are looking out for is a decoupling of infection and hospitalization and death.
Fr. Austriaco explained that even if infections are going up, when the population reaches a certain point of vaccination, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 will not go up but will go down because the vaccines will protect the population from severe disease, hospitalization, and death. ### OPS