The Department of Health (DOH) is trying to allay the fears of some experts regarding the alleged low efficacy of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine against the B1.351 or South African variant that has already entered the Philippines.
Yesterday, Fr. Nicanor Austriatico, a biologist and fellow of the OCTA Research Group, said the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only has 10% against the South African variant which already entered the country. OCTA Research based the rate on a new study abroad published in February.
He said the 17 million doses of AstraZeneca purchased by the government will be wasted if the “South African variant” is not controlled, especially since it is said to be ineffective here. But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the results of the study are not yet conclusive.
“Itong study na sinasabi… napakaliit ng sample. Maliit ‘yung sample, it’s less than 2,000. And these were among individuals na young at saka hindi pa peer-reviewed ‘yung study,”
said Vergeire, Wednesday, at a media forum.
“Ibig sabihin, hindi pa kumpleto ‘yung ebidensya to state na talagang mangyayari ito. Ngunit, siyempre, pinakikinggan natin itong mga lumalabas na pag-aaral katulad niyang kina Fr. Austriaco ng OCTA, katulad nitong mga publications na ito, kinokonsidera natin ‘yan para hindi tayo nagkakaroon ng pagpapabaya.”
AstraZeneca vaccine only 10% effective vs. South African variant
According to the DOH official, they are still being careful, especially since the study shows that the efficacy of the AstraZeneca drug against B1.351 is decreasing. However, this does not mean that immunization efforts will be wasted.
“No matter what the publications say, bumaba ng ganito ang efficacy, hanggang wala tayong certainty we will continue to use the vaccines,” Vergeire added.
“So tuloy-tuloy po ang pagbabakuna natin at inaasahan natin na ang mga bakunang ito ang somehow makakapagtulong sa atin to contain and to prevent more variants from entering or being transmitted in the country.”
In the last DOH report on Wednesday, 582,223 people have been infected with COVID-19 in the Philippines. Of that number, 12,389 people have died.