The Palace on Monday stood by the government’s purchase of anti-coronavirus vaccines anew after a Chinese official’s remarks raised doubts on the efficacy of China-made shots.
Gao Fu, director of China Centers for Disease Control, said on Saturday that vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates” and that Beijing is considering mixing shots to boost it.
“We will solve the issue that current vaccines don’t have very high protection rates,” Gao was quoted as saying at a conference in China.
In a message to Associated Press over the weekend, Gao clarified he was speaking about the effectiveness rates for “vaccines in the world, not particularly for China”.
He did not respond to further questions about which vaccines he was referring to.
In his press briefing, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque defended the Covid-19 vaccines and urged the public to get inoculated, noting that the shots provide protection against severe infection and deaths.
Reports show that China currently has five vaccines in use in its mass immunization campaign with an efficacy rate that ranges from just over 50 percent to 79 percent, based on trials conducted in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia.
“Assuming it’s correct that it only has a 50 percent efficacy rate, doctors have repeatedly explained that it is still a guarantee against serious illness or even death because of Covid-19. And that’s why it is still okay for protection,” he said.
In a separate news conference, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Pena said the country’s vaccine expert panel will look into the matter. He did not provide additional details.
At least 2.5 million doses of China-made vaccines from Sinovac BioTech were delivered to the Philippines in tranches.
To date, the Philippines has secured some 25 million doses of vaccines from China’s Sinovac.
The doses are administered on health care workers, senior citizens, and persons with underlying medical conditions with “stringent evaluation” of a person’s health and risks.
Sinovac is the only brand available in the country so far, aside from the Covid-19 vaccine made by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca.
Over a million Filipinos have been vaccinated with the first doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca since the Philippines began its immunization drive in March, based on the latest data available from the health department.
At least 132,000 of them have received their second doses.