Sotto says FDA ‘bad-mouthing’ Sinovac for advising against use on health workers, senior citizens

Published February 22, 2021, 6:52 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III criticized on Monday experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for advising against the use of Sinovac’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines among health workers.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Photo by Senate PRIB)

“I’m disturbed by a statement coming from the FDA, na parang sinisiraan pa ‘yong Sinovac, eh (that they seem to be bad-mouthing Sinovac). Nakakatakot ‘yong ganon pa ‘yong naririnig mo. (It’s scary to hear things like that). We should exercise caution in saying things like that, na hindi pwede sa health workers (that it’s not allowed for health workers),” Sotto said at the resumption of the Senate’s plenary discussion on the proposed “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act” on February 22.

“Bakit sasabihin mong hindi pwede sa health workers ‘yon (Why would you say that the vaccines cannot be used on health workers)? We should be very cautious with things like that,” he further said.

The FDA, in granting an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac Biotech Monday, disclosed that the China-made vaccines were not recommended for use of healthcare workers who are exposed to COVID-19 patients.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said this was because of the vaccine’s efficacy rate of 50.4 percent for the group, citing interim data from the clinical trials being conducted in Brazil.

Meanwhile, the vaccine yielded an efficacy of 65.3 to 91.2 percent for “clinically healthy” individuals aged 18 to 59 years old.

Sotto, who is 72 years old, earlier said that he prefers the vaccines developed by Sinovac and China-owned Sinopharm for the supposed practicality and convenience in its administration.

He said that unlike other brands of vaccines, doctors no longer have to mix Sinovac’s product and that its vials already include syringes.

“Isasaksak na lang sayo pagkatanggal doon sa packaging (The vaccine will just be injected to you once you unwrap its packaging),” the Senate chief said.

“‘Yong sinasabi nila na hindi pwede sa health workers, like ‘yong — hindi ako nagbebenta ng vaccine ha — ibig sabihin ‘yong sinasabi nilang ‘yon, all in one, eh (Their statement that it’s not recommended for health workers — I am not endorsing vaccines to be clear — I’m just saying that that brand they were talking about was all-in-one),” Sotto said.

Sinovac is the third pharmaceutical company to receive an EUA in the Philippines. The FDA had earlier granted EUA to the COVID-19 vaccines of Pfizer and AstraZeneca.