Palace changes mind, military gets first vaccine shots

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FAR from what the Palace referred to as priority sectors’ list, Filipino front liners would not get the first jabs of the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccines.

Instead the first 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility are likely to be used for the military.

Citing recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the China-made Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, expected to arrive anytime this week, is not recommended for healthcare workers and the elderly.

Following the announcement after the FDA which issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for Sinovac, Roque said that health workers have been highly exposed to the deadly virus and for that reason, its efficacy may not be enough.

Scientific findings show Sinovac only has 50.4-percent efficacy for those who have been constantly exposed to infected patients.

“I can confirm it looks like Sinovac will be the first vaccine we’ll use in our vaccination program. Dahil sinabi po ng FDA sa approved na EUA [for Sinovac] na hindi muna gagamitin sa senior citizens, hindi po mapapasama ang Presidente sa mauuna,” Roque said.

 Roque hinted at the military as likely the first to get the vaccine shots. After the military are the economic frontliners or those essential workers who had to physically report to work during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed from mid-March to May 2020.  

“Magpupulong po iyong tinatawag na NITAG ‘no – ang NITAG po iyong National Immunization Technical Advisory Group. Sila po iyong bumuo ng list of priorities at ang mangyayari po diyan eh siguro kinakailangan nilang baguhin muna iyong ating list of priorities para sa Sinovac.  Ang uunahin nila ay unang-una ‘no, mayroon kasing 100,000 na donated [na Sinovac] para sa militar so kinakailangan magamit talaga iyong 100,000 sa militar,” Roque averred.

“Hindi naman po natin pinili ito pero tingnan ninyo mayroon talagang Panginoon na [ang] nagsabi mauuna talaga ang mahihirap sa Pilipinas na magkaroon ng bakuna,” he added.

He also assured that such change in the list of priority sectors in the government’s mass inoculation would not change any more.

“Hindi na po maaantala iyan. Kung hindi maibibigay sa seniors at healthcare workers, napakadami naman pong mga critical economic frontliners na mabibigyan at siyempre kung maaprubahan na at magkaroon na ng supply agreement na initial one million ‘no…50,000 at 950,000…one million Sinovac eh pupuwede na nating ituloy-tuloy ang bakunahan; na iyong ating mga mahihirap na pinangako ni Presidente na sila po ang mauuna sa bakuna,” Roque added.

Aside from Sinovac, the FDA has also granted EUA to Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

Pfizer-BioNTech has been found to have an efficacy rate of 95 percent among its study population and 92 percent across all races.

AstraZeneca, on the other hand, posted an efficacy rate of 70 percent after the first dose. The said rating increases after the second dose is administered four to 12 weeks after the first dose.

Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Sinovac are all administered in two doses.

China has donated 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines, of which 100,000 doses have been reported earlier as reserved for the military.

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