Speculations on delayed Astra-Zeneca arrival, lack of confidence in Sinovac threaten vaccination program’s success- Zarate

Published March 2, 2021, 8:07 PM

by Ben Rosario

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Tuesday, March 2 said many health workers have remained hesitant at getting themselves inoculated with the Sinovac/Coronavac vaccines because of dissatisfaction over the vow of transparency made by government.

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Zarate said the delayed arrival of the more trusted Astra-Zeneca brand has worsened the situation as many Filipinos have started to entertain apprehension over the real reason for the unavailability of the vaccine.

“Now, that the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines are again delayed indefinitely, many people will  again speculate why, despite several government assurances before of vaccine choices, in the end  the only choice left is to take the Sinovac vaccine,” said the opposition lawmaker.

In a press statement, Zarate said that while vaccine donation made by China have already been “legally administered among frontlline workers”, there remains a need for “more transparency and competence” in the government’s vaccination program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“As it is, because the Sinovac/Coronavac vaccine from China still lacks its published Phase 3 results and peer reviews, health workers and many Filipinos still do not trust the brand,” Zarate said.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even initially said that Sinovac is not recommended for health workers and seniors and no verbal semantics can get around that,” the opposition lawmaker stated.

Top government officials appeared to be going all out in endorsing the use of China-made vaccines despite FDA airing its doubts over the efficacy of the product.

Local and national government leaders have expressed common lines in the campaign for vaccination, telling the public that a vaccine’s low efficacy level is better than having no protection at all against the deadly COVID-19 disease.

“Even if the Sinovac vaccine came in first, confidence on the said brand is still low, especially among the frontline health workers. In some cases it is just 1 out of 10 healthworkers who agreed to the Sinovac inoculation while it is 9 out of 10 for Pfizer and AstraZeneca,” Zarate said.

He stated: “These numbers do not generally  help inspire ordinary people to trust the program.” 

“For Filipinos to trust the vaccines of whatever brand, transparency from among the manufacturers and the government is the key. But, as it is now, competence of officials in charge  in the execution of the program is also necessary for the country to get our  preferred vaccines, especially now that the Philippines is far behind or left out even by our neighboring countries,” explained the Makabayan solon.