Philippines to use Sinovac vaccine on health workers

An inter-agency task force has approved a plan to inoculate FIlipino health workers against the coronavirus using vaccines from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac BIotech Ltd., according to health authorities.

This was upon the recommendation of an advisory group from the Department of Health (DoH), Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online news briefing on Friday. Experts agreed the vaccine would benefit health workers.

It would still need approval from President Rodrigo R. Duterte, she said.

Sinovac’s vaccine is 50% effective in preventing mild symptoms and 100% effective for patients with moderate to severe symptoms, reducing severe cases and deaths, Ms. Vergeire said, citing clinical data.

Marissa Alejandria, a member of the advisory group, said they found no safety issues.

Vaccination with the Sinovac drug is not mandatory and healthcare workers will decide whether to accept it, Ms. Vergeire said.

The local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week approved Sinovac’s vaccine for emergency use, the third drug after vaccines from Pfizer, Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc.

FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique F. Domingo said the vaccine was not recommended for health workers with coronavirus exposures, based on trials in Turkey, because it’s only 50.4% effective for their class.

The government is expected to take delivery of 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses donated by China next week.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force’s approval of the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group is an assurance that the use of Sinovac is safe and beneficial to our healthcare workers,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement.

DoH reported 2,651 coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to 571,327. The death toll rose by 46 to 12,247, while recoveries increased by 561 to 524,582, it said in a bulletin.

There were 34,498 active cases, 88.4% of which were mild, 6.4% did not show symptoms, 2.3% were critical, 2.1% were severe and 0.74% were moderate.

The agency said four duplicates had been removed from the tally, while 20 recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Eight laboratories failed to submit their data on Feb. 25.

Around 8.2 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Feb. 24, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 113.6 million and killed more than 2.5 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 89.1 million people have recovered, it said.

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