Vaccine czar defends Sinovac deal

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. defended the government-sponsored Sinovac coronavirus disease (-19) vaccine deal, even though some trials show that it has a lower efficacy rate – or level of effectiveness – and more expensive compared to other vaccines.

Galvez further stressed that Sinovac was chosen because apart from being used by other rich countries, it is also said to have a low price compared to other vaccines.

“Kaya po napili ang Sinovac dahil medyo mura po ito at gagamitin ito sa Singapore at sa Turkey at Indonesia. Ang Malaysia ay ginagawa sa manufacturing capacity ang Sinovac at gagamitin rin po sa Brazil at Egypt. Kung ito ay gagamitin sa advanced countries tulad ng Singapore, ay palagay natin na nakita natin na effective at efficient,” said Galvez.

“Tanggalin na po natin ang discrimination sa ibang vaccine,” he added.

The government has already purchased 25 million doses of the vaccine, which will begin to arrive in February. Sionvac has yet to apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the data released by the office of Sen. Sonny Angara, Sinovac vaccine is the second most expensive vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at P3,649 for its two doses.

Senator Panfilo Lacson is asking for an explanation as to why the government prefers -made vaccine even though it is more expensive and has a lower efficacy rate than others, based on its data.

“Can somebody explain why preference is given to the second most expensive vaccine, has lower efficacy, a record of suspended clinical trials and has not even applied for EUA over other vaccines that cost much less, more efficacious and are about to be granted their Emergency Use Authorization (EUAs)?” Lacson said in a tweet.

Vaccine czar defends Sinovac deal

The latest clinical trial of the vaccine in Brazil also showed that it is only 50.4 percent effective.

Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan called for the cancellation of vaccines’ purchase.

“Sinovac, with just over 50% efficacy is 6 times more expensive than AstraZeneca which in contrast shows 70% efficacy. Given these latest findings, we call on the DoH to cancel the purchase of Sinovac vaccines,” said Pangilinan.

But according to Galvez, the government can buy Sinovac cheaper if it is passed through the Covax facility – a global partnership that ensures that all countries have access to the vaccine.

“Ang COVAX price ay bababa ng mahigit almost 300% ang ibaba ‘yung kanyang price, mali po ang information ng ating mahal na senator dahil iyong Sinovac, ka-presyo niya ang Novavax, ka-presyo niya ang Gamaleya, ka-presyo niya ang ibang vaccines. Iyong sinasabi nating 5 times, mali iyon. Hindi ko lang po ma-reveal ‘yung cost ng ibang vaccines, pero nasa middle ang Sinovac. Mas mura siya sa Moderna, mas mura siya sa ibang vaccines ng US,” said Galvez.