MMDA exec calls FDA decision to use Sinovac on elders ‘very good news’; here’s why

Published April 8, 2021, 1:00 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

“Very good news.”

That’s how Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia described on Thursday, April 8 the government’s decision to allow the use of China-made CoronaVac brand vaccines on senior citizens.


Garcia, in a virtual news forum, said the development would hasten the inoculation of Filipinos against the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

CoronaVac is manufactured by Sinovac Biotech. It is one of only two vaccine brands being used by the Philippines, the other one being the British-Swedish vaccine AstraZeneca.

“Napakaganda ng balita kahapon galing sa FDA [Food and Drug Administration] na inapprove na ang Sinovac sa senior. Pwede na tayong magtuloy-tuloy ng pagbabakuna (It was very good to learn from FDA yesterday that Sinovac has been approved for seniors. We can now continously perform vaccinations),” Garcia said.

“In NCR (National Capital Region or Metro Manila) alone, we can do at least 120,000 vaccinations per day,” he claimed.

He further said that herd immunity from COVID-19 be achieved faster by Metro Manila residents. Herd immunity–an indirect protection from the disease–would be attained after 70 percent of the population completes their inoculation, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has said.

“I think with the 14 million population in NCR, 70 percent of those is around 10 million, siguro in four months kaya natin tapusin yung first dose, pasunod na yung second dose. So hinihintay lang natin yung steady supply ng vaccine (we could probably finish the first dose in four months, with the second dose not far behind. So we’re just waiting for a steady supply of the vaccine),” he explained.

Garcia said that three priority groups are simultaneously being vaccinated right now in NCR–frontline healthcare workers (dubbed A1), senior citizens (A2), and persons with comorbidities (A3).

He said that while vaccination on A1 is ‘almost finished,’ A2 can’t go full throttle due to the limited supply of AstraZeneca jabs.

“Noong unang wave niyan, AstraZeneca lang pwede sa seniors. So nag-jump tayo sa A3 (Only AstraZeneca was allowed for seniors during the first wave of vaccinations. So we jumped to A3),” the MMDA official said.

“Very good news sa amin yung Sinovac na pwede na sa seniors para at least sabay-sabay na (Approving the use of Sinovac on seniors is very good news to us since we can now vaccinate the priority groups simultaneously),” he noted.

The FDA previously did not recommend the use Sinovac jabs on the elderly due to supposed low efficacy.