All coronavirus vaccine brands are effective and Western brands are not more superior to Chinese-made ones, President Duterte said Monday, May 31, as he approved the use of American-made Pfizer and Moderna for seafarers.
During his taped briefing, Duterte explained there is no violation of the equal protection of the laws, which said that a government cannot deny people equal protection of its governing laws, when he approved the use of Western-made vaccine brands on seafarers since this is required by their employers.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have an efficacy rate of almost 95 percent in clinical trials, higher than that of Sinovac, the Chinese-made vaccine widely distributed in the Philippines.
“It is high time that the people would know or must know na itong lahat ng vaccine puro effective ‘yan (all of these vaccines are effective),” the Chief Executive said.
“Kaya ipasok mo sa ulo that itong (You should all put it in your head that these) US-made cannot be a superior brand than the Chinese and other brands in comparing them with each other. Iyan ang tandaan ninyo (That’s what you should remember),” he added.
The President granted the request of Filipino seafarers for Western-made COVID-19 vaccines since this is a requirement before they can board the ships.
Foreign ship owners require seafarers to be vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
But Duterte maintained that this does not mean these vaccines are superior to Chinese-made vaccines such as Sinovac and Sinopharm. Duterte himself has been inoculated with Sinopharm, a vaccine developed by Beijing Biological Products Institute under state-owned China National Biotec Group (CNBG).
He stressed that “there is no clear evidence to show” that Pfizer and Moderna are superior to Sinovac and Sinopharm. In fact, he argued that Sinovac is being widely used in Dubai and other countries where real-world data shows it is 90 percent effective.
“To us there is no distinction. They are both — lahat ito effective (These are all effective). And as a matter of fact, a lot of countries have used Sinovac, wala naman silang — walang reklamo (there are no complaints). I have not heard of any news or whatever to show that there are complaints about the disparity in the efficacy of these vaccines,” he said.
The best vaccine, Duterte said as he quoted experts, is the one before you. That will give you protection, he added.
The government has come under fire in recent weeks as health protocols of foreign employers and governments require the use of Western-made vaccines. This has led to over 400 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) being stranded late last week because of Saudi Arabia’s strict protocols on incoming workers not inoculated with Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
In the past, the President criticized Filipinos for preferring Pfizer and Moderna over Sinovac, which the Philippines has a steady supply of despite the brand not having an emergency use validation from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) even prohibited local government units (LGUs) from announcing the brand of vaccines available in the vaccination sites.