China’s Sinovac to be used in first wave of gov’t immunization program

January 13 ------ The coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac will be the only choice for the government’s free immunization program until the middle of 2021, Malacañang said Tuesday. The initial shipment of the Chinese-made vaccines will arrive the next month while other brands of vaccines purchased by the government are expected to be delivered to country in July, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque. These vaccines, once they secure approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are considered safe and effective regardless of the brand, he added.

Roque earlier commented the people included in the government’s vaccine priority list could neither choose the brand of free vaccine they want nor be forced on taking the preventive drug. Some groups however have criticized Roque over his statement, insisting people have the right to be choosy with the vaccine since it concerns their health.

“Pagdating po ng bakuna sa Pebrero hanggang Hunyo, wala po talagang pilian ‘yan dahil iisa lang po ang bakuna na magiging available. ‘Yung nga po iyong galing sa Tsina” Roque said during a televised press conference. “Pagdating ng July, marami nang papasok pero hindi lahat ‘yan puwedeng piliin ng ating mga kababayan,” he said, citing the cold chain facility requirement of some vaccines. If the beneficiary opts to decline the vaccine, Roque said the person will be asked to sign a waiver about losing his/her priority status. The beneficiary will then join the rest of the public in waiting for the vaccines to be available.

“Pero kung ayaw ninyo talaga, hindi mapipilit ‘yan” he said. “Pero uulitin ko po, wala na pong pilitan, kung ayaw talaga, okay lang po iyan, mawawala lang ang prayoridad kung sila po ay kabahagi ng priority population at pipila po sila sa huli” he said. Roque said the brand of the vaccine is no longer important once it passes regulatory approval. “Basta pumasa iyan sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration), lahat iyan proven safe and proven effective. So, hindi na po importante kung ano iyong brand” he said. Last Monday, Roque said priority beneficiaries of the vaccines should not be picky with the brand of the coronavirus vaccine especially since it is free. He also noted that many people would want to get inoculated against the coronavirus.

Of the 25 million coronavirus vaccines doses ordered from China’s Sinovac, the first shipment of 50,000 doses will arrive in the country next month. The remaining vaccine doses are expected to shipped in the following months until December 2021. The government has also secured a supply of 30 million Covavax vaccine doses, which are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of the year. Several local government units and private companies, with the assistance of the national government, have also finalized supply deals of vaccines developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca. “Hindi po natin ipinagbabawal; wala pong monopoliya ang national government sa pagbili ng mga bakuna” Roque said.