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Biz groups divided over vax choices

Considering this most important benefit, I believe that we should take what we can get

Raffy Ayeng

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The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, on Tuesday asked the public to “take (whatever vaccine) the country could get” as the government is pressed to start the process of economic recovery.

Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico, the PCCI President, said this exclusively to Daily Tribune as the government starts working on winning the public’s trust in the CoronaVac, the China-made vaccine donated out of the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. — one of two mainland pharma firms to have rolled out vaccines globally.

Other business groups have welcomed the arrival of the Chinese donated doses of CoronaVac, airing their hopes for the improvement of the badly battered economy.

Their line supported the government’s call for acceptance of the Sinovac-produced vials.

Despite his call for trusting the CoronaVac, however, Yujuico said the PCCI member-companies would prefer vials from other makers.

Skepticism marked the rollout of Sinovac’s product due to its low efficacy rate of 50.4 percent in the test conducted in Brazil. Turkey, meanwhile, showed 91 percent efficacy of the same jab.
The PCCI chief, however, said CoronaVac can still prevent life-threatening results of Covid.

“Considering this most important benefit, I believe that we should take what we can get. The country needs a vaccination program implemented for the economic recovery to start in earnest,” Yujuico stated.

He also made clear that “Sinovac is not at the top of the list of preferred vaccines by our citizenry”.

“In fact, some do not even want to get vaccinated if Sinovac is used.

It is true that the efficacy of the Sinovac is in the 50 percent level but experts, including Dr. Fauci, attested that the lower efficacy, though not ideal, will protect against serious consequences of Covid such as hospitalization and even death,” Yujuico told Daily Tribune.

Dr. Anthony Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which conducts and supports clinical trials evaluating therapies and vaccine candidates against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes Covid-19.

Other groups hopeful

In a separate interview, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) president Francis Lim said their group welcomes the arrival of Sinovac.

“We fervently hope that this is the start of a continuous flow of sufficient vaccines into the country as inoculating as many people as possible at the soonest possible time will significantly boost consumer confidence and accelerate our economic recovery,” Lim said.

Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) president Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, meanwhile, lauded the Philippine government for starting the vaccination program.

“We believe this shall signal the beginning of Philippine economic, public health and consumer confidence recovery,” Liong said. “Special thanks to our good neighbor and traditional trade partner China for their generous gift of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines, which they sent us via a special military transport plane Sunday.”

He also extolled President Rodrigo Duterte for his successful ties with China, along with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and vaccine czar General Carlito Galvez Jr. He also cited the special assistance and efforts of Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“I am very hopeful and optimistic about economic recovery this year.

The vaccines program shall definitely boost economic confidence, both from the business sector and from our consumers too. We welcome and support this vaccine program,” Liong added.

Likewise, the Filipino-Chinese businessman urged the public to heed government experts in the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the FDA, and others that claimed vaccination is safe & healthy.

“We should fully support this vaccine program. The experts say Sinovac is safe because it was developed using traditional ways and it is now being used in many countries worldwide.

Let us heed science, promote public health & faster Philippine economic recovery,” Liong stressed.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) also expressed that it also recognizes the urgency of the smooth and speedy rollout of the immunization program.

“This is crucial in stabilizing the current situation, and in ensuring that the majority of sectors are up and running again on all cylinders.

We acknowledge the importance of and are supportive of the Department of Health’s and the healthcare industry’s efforts to restore vaccine confidence,” ECCP president Nabil Francis said in an interview.

Francis noted that the ECCP looks forward to improved information sharing regarding the importance of vaccination and addressing the public’s risk perception on the matter.

The priority list of the two-shot vaccine will cover 50,000 soldiers and 250,000 health workers.

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