Veer away from 'less effective' Sinovac vaccines, Drilon asks gov't

Published June 26, 2021, 6:52 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The government should start considering buying more effective and cheaper vaccines to inject to the Filipino population to ensure better protection against the COVID-19, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Saturday, June 26.

Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine (AFP/MANILA BULLETIN)

In a radio interview, Drilon urged the Philippine government to specifically “veer away” from the vaccines of Sinovac, and instead procure doses of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines. He compared the efficacy rate of the two vaccine brands.

“Siguro (Maybe) we should start a policy, which would ultimately use as primary vacine brand Pfizer dahilan po sa mga pag-aaral mas epektibo ang Pfizer kaysa sa Sinovac (because studies showed that Pfizer is more effective than Sinovac),” he told radio DWIZ.

“‘Yon po ang katotohanan (That is the truth),” he added.

The Senate minority leader said it would be suspicious if the government insists on buying Sinovac vaccines, which, he said, cost higher.

The government earlier secured 25 million doses of vaccines from Sinovac, 10 million of which have been delivered to the Philippines as of June 24. Besides this, China donated one million Sinovac doses to the country.

Meanwhile, the government signed recently a supply agreement with Pfizer-BioNtech for 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, which is expected to arrive starting August. This is the biggest of the country’s vaccine procurements so far.

“Malaking bagay po ito dahil ang balita ko mas mababa ang presyo sa Sinovac (This is significant because I heard Pfizer’s vaccines are cheaper the Sinovac’s),” Drilon said, commending vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. for the development.

During a Senate hearing last June 15, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the prices of the vaccines purchased by the government ranged from $6.75 to $27.59 per dose.

Officials of the government pandemic task force, however, refused to divulge to senators the specific prices of each vaccine brand, invoking the non-disclosure agreements they signed with vaccine manufacturers.

“Ito meron nang supply, 40 million ang binili. Ang presyo mas mababa nang bahagya sa Sinovac, at ang effectiveness ay mataas. So bakit natin ipipilit ang Sinovac (Now we have the supply. The price is quite lower than Sinovac’s, and the effectiveness is higher. So why will we insist on buying Sinovac)?” Drilon said.

“Kaya dapat umpisahan na natin na sa darating na panahon, dapat doon na tayo sa mas epektibo, which is Pfizer (That’s why we should start, for the long run, using vaccines that are more effective, which is Pfizer),” he added.

According to the Department of Health’s (DOH) website, Sinovac’s vaccine yielded an efficacy rate of 65 to 91 percent, based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey as of March, 2021.

Pfizer, meanwhile, has an efficacy rate of 95 percent.