The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarified on Wednesday, Feb. 24, that healthcare workers still have the option to get vaccinated with Sinovac Biotech’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.
FDA-Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said his agency only made a recommendation on which group the vaccine is suited for.
“Hindi po natin sinasabi na bawal. Hindi po siya contraindication. Ang sinasabi po natin, ang recommendation natin is that maybe tingnan po ng pamahalaan kung ibibigay din siya sa health workers lalo na yung mga nagte-treat ng patients with COVID-19 knowing that the efficacy rate is a little lower in this group (We are not saying that it is prohibited. It is not a contraindication. What we are saying: our recommendation is that maybe the government should review if it will also be given to health workers, especially those who treat patients with COVID-19, knowing that the efficacy rate is a little lower in this group),” said Domingo during the “Laging Handa” press briefing.
“Hindi siya bawal. Actually kung ang healthcare worker gusto na niyang tanggapin ito, maaari po iyon (It is not prohibited. If a healthcare worker chooses to take that vaccine, that is possible),” he added.
Last Monday, Feb. 22, Domingo said that the efficacy rate of Sinovac vaccine for healthcare workers is at 50.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the efficacy rate of the vaccine is at 65 to 91 percent on non-healthcare workers or people in the community, based on the data provided by Sinovac Biotech.
“Para ma infect ka kasi…. merong several factors. Unang-una yung pangangatawan ng tao, yung virulence ng virus, at saka yung environment. Syempre yung mga healthcare workers na gumagamot sa may mga COVID-19 talagang iba yung environment nila sa mga tao sa komunidad (For one to be infected, there are several factors. First the health of one’s body, the virulence of the virus, and then the environment. Of course, the healthcare workers who are treating those with COVID-19 have a very different environment from the people in the community),” Domingo explained.
“Sila ay nasa environment na continuous exposure to the virus and probably to the high levels of the virus. Kaya isa ito sa mga possible na dahilan kung bakit talagang mas madalas silang kapitan at mas mababa ng konti ang bisa ng vaccine na ito (They are in an environment with continuous exposure to the virus and probably to the high levels of the virus. So this is one of the possible reasons why they are often infected and the effectiveness of the vaccine is quite lower),” he added.
Sinovac vaccine ‘effective’
During the Malacanang press briefing on Wednesday, Feb. 24, Sinovac Biotech general manager Helen Yang assured that their vaccine is effective against COVID-19.
“Overall, no matter from healthcare workers or for the ordinary population— the inactivated vaccine has already proven very safe because not only in trials, we also have provided the vaccine in China and outside of China. There have already been over 10 million or 20 million people who have already used the vaccine and the safety profile has been showing very well,” said Yang.
Yang said that 12 countries are currently using the Sinovac vaccine that include Brazil, Turkey, Chile, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Mexico, Columbia, and other “several latin American countries and Asian countries as well.”
Yang assured that the vaccine is suitable for healthcare workers.
“We are expecting that people in healthcare facilities can be protected because those are the people we need in the society to treat patients in order to maintain a regular norm of our whole society,” she said.
Yang said that the 50 percent efficacy rate that was shown in the clinical trials in Brazil for healthcare workers is acceptable.
“It is above the efficacy rate of 50 percent— which is above the standard of the WHO (World Health Organization) and this shows the vaccine is effective and safe,” she said.
“The data speaks. We have conducted trials in different regions and locations…as well as vaccine rollouts in so many different countries. I think the vaccine’s safety has been reassured while we are supplying the vaccines and more and more people are using these products,” she added.