Sinovac assures safety, efficacy, affordability of its vaccine

Published January 18, 2021, 12:14 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech assured the public that its CoronaVac vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID19) is safe, effective, and will be reasonably priced. 

(Photo by Owen Humphreys / POOL / AFP / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Our safety data collecting is showing there are no serious adverse reactions related to the vaccine,” Sinovac Biotech general manager Helen Yang said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday Yang said the testing conducted in several countries showed that the vaccine has met the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO). 

She assured that “in terms of pricing, definitely we are not on the highest expensive ones because I think it is the mission of Sinovac to provide at an affordable price.”

“In the Philippines, we are committed to provide a favorable price,” said Yang. She declined to provide pricing for the vaccine. 

ang said Sinovac and the Philippine government have already forged a term sheet in supplying 25 million doses of the vaccines with 50,000 being eyed to be delivered in February. 

“Usually, a term sheet is a non binding understanding between buyers and sellers on some of the terms they most cared about,” she said Yang expressed hope that the firm and the Philippine government will eventually reach a definitive and binding agreement. 

Sinovac’s general manager said their vaccine uses inactivated technology which has been utilized for decades. 

“So the safety of the trial is very good not only for the COVID vaccine but also for our other vaccines using the same technology,” she said. The Sinovac official said CoronaVac underwent clinical trials in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia. 

“Around 20 percent of people reported pain at the injection site and fever,” she said, citing data collected. 

Yang said Sinovac has already rolled out around eight million doses in China, Turkey, and Indonesia.

On Sunday, Brazil approved the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of the Sinovac vaccine. 

“Even in this very challenging environment, the results still meet the WHO standards. I think this is a fantastic result,” Yang said. 

She said Turkey has already revealed the preliminary results of the trials which showed that there is a vaccine protective rate of 91.25 percent. Brazil, however, revealed that there is an overall 50 percent efficacy rate. 

Yang pointed out that the results of the trials in Brazil showed that there is a 100 percent protection for severe and hospitalized cases and 78 percent for those with mild cases but with medical assistance. 

Bloomberg News, citing Sinovac Biotech Ltd., reported that CoronaVac is more effective in preventing the disease if the two-dose regime is administered over a longer time frame.

Nearly 1,400 of the 13,000 people who took part in clinical trials of Sinovac’s vaccine received their doses three weeks apart, while most of the volunteers in the Brazil-based trials got the second jab two weeks after the first. 

The protection rate for the smaller group was nearly 20 percentage points higher than the 50.4% rate observed in the majority, Sinovac said in a written response to Bloomberg News. 

The comments come after CoronaVac delivered vastly different efficacy rates in four clinical trial sites, fueling concern over whether the vaccine that’s key to the inoculation campaigns of some of the world’s COVID hotspots will be effective in stemming outbreaks. 

In its response, Sinovac also reiterated that the participants in its Phase III trial in Brazil – the largest one for CoronaVac undertaken worldwide – were medical workers who tended to COVID patients, arguing they faced higher exposure to the highly infectious pathogen. 

“The vaccine’s ability to protect medical workers in active outbreaks could significantly improve if they are administered between 21 or 28 days,” the company said in its statement to Bloomberg. 

Shots developed by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. that are now being administered around the world generated much higher efficacy rates of more than 90% in final-stage trials that included a more diverse range of people, according to the companies’ statements. 

Sinovac earlier indicated the prevalence of medical workers in its Brazil trial was why the efficacy rate was so low. 

An experimental shot must be at least 50% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 to be approved for general use, a threshold widely held by major drug regulators around the world and the World Health Organization. (With a report from Bloomberg)