Galvez awaits advice from VEP about efficacy of Sinovac vaccine

Published January 13, 2021, 6:22 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The national government will seek the advise of the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) with regards to the efficacy of the candidate vaccine of Chinese manufacturer, Sinovac, after Brazilian authorities found out that it only has a 50.4-percent efficacy rate, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. bared Wednesday.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a “Laging Handa” press briefing, Galvez refused to answer whether or not the national government is already reconsidering the purchase of the Chinese vaccines after news of its efficacy in a Brazilian clinical trial made headlines.

“We will wait for the pronouncement of our Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP),” Galvez responded when asked on the matter.

“These are all just pronouncements made in different news [agencies]. We need scientifically proven [data] and we have evaluations being conducted by different regulatory authorities,” he added.

On Wednesday, foreign media outlets reported the results of Sinovac’s Phase 3 clinical trial in Brazil, where it yielded a 50.4-percent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic infections of COVID-19.

But Galvez defended the government’s procurement of Sinovac as he said that it was already being used in China while other advanced countries are also buying them.

The Chinese government has already issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac in August, 2020 to allow its limited distribution among their vulnerable sectors and the elderly, Galvez noted.

“We chose Sinovac because we also prioritize our vulnerable sectors and elderly. It will also be used by Singapore, Turkey, and Indonesia. Malaysia will also have a manufacturing capacity of Sinovac vaccines. It will also be used in Brazil and Egypt,” he said.

“If Sinovac will be used by advanced countries like Singapore, I think this only shows that it is safe and effective,” he added.

However, the Chinese government has yet to issue an EUA for general use and Authority to Export to Sinovac. These documents are vital in the decision of the FDA whether or not to issue an EUA to the Chinese firm, Galvez said.

In the Philippines, Sinovac is only one of the three vaccine manufacturers which already applied for an EUA before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The other two firms are Pfizer (United States) and AstraZeneca (United Kingdom).

Galvez revealed that our FDA is set to release an EUA to Sinovac before February 20, just in time for the expected arrival of the first 50,000 doses of the Chinese vaccines in the country next month.

“It will be approved before February 20. What’s good here is that we already know how many supplies will be arriving every month,” he said.

The government is set to receive 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines this year, with the first 50,000 doses set to arrive in February.

Another batch of 950,000 doses will arrive in March and in the succeeding months, it will increase from one million to three million doses until the target supply is delivered, Galvez said.

Aside from Brazil, Sinovac is also conducting a Phase 3 clinical trial in Turkey. 

Both the results of the Brazil and Turkey trials will be sent by Sinovac to FDA before they are given an EUA, Galvez said.