What you need to know about China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine or CoronaVac

Published March 1, 2021, 9:58 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Philippines officially received on Sunday afternoon,  Feb. 28, 600,000 doses of CoronaVac donated by the Chinese government, marking the start of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

(Chinese Embassy in Manila)

Sinovac’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine  is known as SARS-CoV-2 vaccine Vero Cell Inactivated, or the CoronaVac.

CoronaVac is the third vaccine to be granted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country. 

The FDA granted an EUA to CoronaVac on Feb. 22, 2021.

As of Feb. 11, 2021, the vaccine got  EUA approvals in five countries including China, Indonesia, Turkey, and Brazil.

Is the CoronaVac safe? Yes, according to the country’s heath authorities and health experts. 

As per the evaluation of the FDA and concurred by expert groups, the safety profile  for clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years is good. 

Adverse events were mild to moderate, and the possibility of allergy or anaphylaxis is minimal.

Is the CoronaVac effective? Yes, the Department of Health (DOH) said. “Clinical trial data show that the vaccine is 50 percent effective in preventing mild symptoms, 78 percent effective against moderate symptoms, and 100 percent effective against severe symptoms.”

The DOH said the vaccine is effective for healthcare workers. It noted that despite the initial FDA recommendation of lower efficacy in healthcare workers due to their exposure, experts from the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NTAG) and Technical Advisory Group (TAG) reviewed the data. After the evaluation, the experts concur that the vaccine is still beneficial even for healthcare workers, based on overall evidence.

“This is enough to meet out goal of preventing deaths, first and foremost by preventing moderate to sever COVID-19 cases,” it said.

The DOH said health workers can decline the vaccination. The Inter-Agency Task Force assured the healthcare workers that they will not lose their priority status on the vaccination list even if they decline to be vaccinated.