All is set.
The Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday, Feb. 27, the government is already prepared to receive the first batch of Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines donated by the Chinese government, which are expected to arrive on Sunday, Feb. 28.
“Actually, we have been prepared for weeks already because we were expecting the Pfizer vaccines before and sa ngayon inuulit nalang natin at nirerepaso kung ano yung ating mga sinagawa noon (Actually, we have been prepared for weeks already because we were expecting the Pfizer vaccines before and now, we are just repeating and reviewing what we did then),” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during the “Laging Handa” press briefing on Saturday, Feb. 27.
“Nag simulation activities kahapon at tiningnan kung paano yung pag receive, pagtanggap, at pag distribute, at pag transport. Lahat po ay sinisiguro na wala tayong as much as possible magka gap dahil nakapa importante ng bawat dose ng bakunang ito (We did simulation activities yesterday to look at the manner of receiving, distributing, and the transporting (of the vaccines). We need to make sure that there will be no gaps as much as possible because every dose of this vaccine is important),” she added.
The Chinese government’s donation involves 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced last Feb. 25.
The arrival ceremony is expected to be held at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City, the National Task Force against COVID-19 and the DOH said in a joint statement issued on Thursday, Feb. 25.
The vaccines will be transported to a DOH facility in Marikina City, said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos during the “Laging Handa” press briefing.
Meanwhile, Vergeire reiterated that local experts already approved the use of Sinovac vaccines for healthcare workers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said last Feb. 22 that it was not recommending the use of Sinovac vaccine for healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 patients because it only showed an efficacy rate of 50.4 percent for this specific group based on the clinical trials done in Brazil.
While it showed a lower efficacy rate in preventing mild symptoms, the Sinovac vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing severe symptoms, Vergeire said.
“Itong parating na bakuna na Sinovac, pag tiningnan po natin sa kabuuan (This Sinovac vaccine, if we look at it as a whole), this can lessen your chances of having severe infection by as much as 100 percent, and lessen your chances of being hospitalized and dying,” she said.
“Sa tingin ko yun palang na factor na iyon dito sa Sinovac ay napakalaking tulong na po sa healthcare workers (I think that factor for this Sinovac (vaccine) is a huge help to healthcare workers),” she added.
Meanwhile, the recommendation of the experts from the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and the DOH-Technical Advisory Group (TAG) did not sit well with the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).
“Ganun pa rin po ang stand namin bilang health workers na kailangan pa rin talaga namin ang safe, effective, high efficacy na vaccine (Our stand as health workers remains that we need a safe, effective, and a vaccine with high efficacy),” said AHW President Robert Mendoza during an interview with ABS-CBN Teleradyo on Saturday, Feb. 27.
“Kung may willing, sige, iturok iyan. Pero siguraduhin ng goberyno na yung unang iprinomise nila magawan ng paraan at maibigay sa atin ngayon yung Pfizer na inaantay natin (If there is someone who is willing (to get vaccinated), go ahead. But the government should fulfill its promise to give us the Pfizer (vaccine) that we are awaiting),” he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured the healthcare workers that they will not lose their priority status should they decide not to get vaccinated with Sinovac vaccine and wait for the arrival of other vaccine brands.