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Sinopharm or Sinovac? Duterte’s decision to get China-made vax final

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President Rodrigo Duterte had decided which vaccine brand to receive and he remained “consistent” with his earlier pronouncements that it would come from China, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the Philippine leader has made up his mind on the matter and he himself would announce it.

“I know of the decision of the President already. I can say that the President’s decision is consistent but he prefers Chinese. But I am not at authority to publicize that decision,” Roque told reporters in a press conference.

The Palace official also said the chief executive would announce whether he would receive the vaccine in private.

“I will let the President make public his decision soon,” he said.

Covid-19 vaccines from Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac have passed their respective Phase 3 clinical trials, with varying efficacy rates.

Sinopharm announced last year that the vaccine’s final trial found it was 79 percent effective ― lower than that of Pfizer and Moderna.

Sinovac’s vaccine, meanwhile, reported it had a 50.65 percent efficacy rate against Covid-19 in the Brazil trial which had recruited 12,396 medical workers older than 18. But the jab also recorded 91.25 percent and 65.3 percent success rates from the trials in Turkey and Indonesia, respectively.

Both vaccines incorporated inactivated viruses, where the intact Sars-CoV2 virus that causes Covid-19 is killed and mixed with chemicals that stimulate an immune response.

The vaccines, both from Sinopharm and Sinovac, also prevented participants from developing severe disease with complications that would hospitalize them. There were no severe side effects with either vaccine.

Both vaccines were also approved for public use in China. Sinopharm’s jab was cleared by Beijing’s product regulators in December, while Sinovac’s vaccine was approved on Saturday.

Its doses can be stored in a standard refrigerator at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, and can remain stable for up to 3 years.

Last Tuesday, Roque said Duterte would seek his physician’s opinion about which Covid-19 vaccine brand to get, adding that the framework developed by the Food and Drug Administration would be considered.

He also said earlier that the President would no longer consider to receive a vaccine in public, even though the move was seen to boost Filipinos’ confidence in serums.

A recent Pulse Asia survey found that nearly half of 47 percent of 2,400 Filipino respondents will reject Covid-19 vaccine even if it becomes available.

The survey showed that concern about the safety of the vaccines is the primary reason for those who will reject it. Such sentiment was highest in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Philippines.

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