Choice of COVID-19 vaccine not comparable to choosing laundry soap — Roque

Published January 18, 2021, 3:09 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The selection of coronavirus vaccines should not be compared to choosing laundry soap as suggested by a comedian due to its limited global supply, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Unlike detergent soaps that have an abundant market supply, Roque explained the Philippines and other developing countries are scrambling to secure vaccines from the remaining 18 percent global vaccine supply. The bulk of the coronavirus vaccines in the market, he added, has been secured by wealthy nations.

Roque made the statement after comedian Vice Ganda commented that if Filipinos are choosy with laundry soap, they are also expected to be more selective when it comes to vaccines that will be injected into their body.

“Dahil sa limitadong supply ng mga bakuna, hindi  tayo makakapili ng isa o dalawang brand (Because of the limited supply of the vaccines, we cannot one or two brands),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday.

“Alam ninyo, mali naman ikukumpara ang bakuna sa sabon nasa panlaba. Ang katunayan po, wala naman supply na ganoon kadami. Nag-aagawan nga tayo sa 18 percent na available na supply (You know it is wrong to compare the vaccines with laundry soap. In fact, there is no such huge supply. We are scrambling for the 18 percent of the available supply),” he added.

According to Roque, the public should trust health experts, not comedians, in determining the safety and efficacy of the vaccines developed to protect against the coronavirus illness. He did not mention any name of comedian in his remarks.

“Hindi lang naman ito gagamitin para sa damit kaya nga hindi lang isa , hindi lang dalawa, kung hindi tatlong grupo pa ng eksperto ang magsusuri kung ang mga bakuna ay ligtas at epektibo (Also, this will not be used for clothes. That’s why there are three groups of experts, not just one or two, to study if the vaccines are safe and effective),” he said.

“Kung hindi naman pagtitiwalaan ang experts na 3 batches of experts na magsasabi na puwede nating gamitin ‘yan at magiging basehan  para mag-issue ang FDA (Food and Drug Administration) ng EUA (emergency use authorization), sino pagkakatiwalaan? Siguro po hindi ang mga komedyante (If we do not trust the word of three batches of experts who can say we can use the vaccines and can be the basis if the FDA will issue an EUA, who will we trust? Maybe not the comedians),” he added.

Roque assured the public that the government would only administer COVID vaccines that are proven safe and effective by health authorities. 

“Uulitin ko po, supply and demand. kung ano ang napatunayan na ligtas at epektibo, ito ang gagamitin natin dahil ang nais natin ay masalba ang pinakamaraming  kababayan natin sa lalong mabilis na panahon (I repeat, it’s about supply and demand. We will use what has been proven safe and effective because we want to save as many people as soon as possible),” he said.

Last week, Vice Ganda reacted to Roque’s pronouncement that people could not choose the brand of coronavirus vaccines to be given free by the government. Roque earlier said the beneficiary in the priority list who declines the free vaccine will have to be place on the back of the line to wait for their turn.

“Sa sabong panlaba nga choosy tayo e sa bakuna pa kaya. Ano to basta may maisaksak lang?! Vaklang twoooaahhh!!!” @vicegandako tweeted on Jan. 12.

The government aims to secure 148 million vaccine doses to vaccinate around 70 million people to achieve herd immunity. So far, the government has negotiated 30 million vaccines doses from Serum Institute of India and 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac BioTech. Around 20 million doses from AstraZeneca have been secured by the private sector and local government units.

A limited supply of Pfizer’s vaccine through the COVAX facility, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, is expected to arrive next month. Around 50,000 vaccines from Sinovac are also scheduled to be shipped in February.