‘Rest assured’

Published July 24, 2021, 12:06 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza

Medium Rare

Jullie Y. Daza

If I were to conduct a casual survey of family and friends, the results would likely be five in eight for Sinovac. Not that we had much choice, Sinovac being the first vaccine to arrive in massive crates and thanks to the propaganda being mouthed by Dr. Anthony Fauci that “the best vaccine is what’s available.”

Being the first with the most doses, Sinovac sounded like the most popular brand, even if many of its recipients would silently have preferred a brand made in US or the UK. Unexpectedly, a survey found that Sinovac was no. 1 in popularity, followed by the American-made Pfizer.

Then came a barrage of bad press – some say it was Western-sourced but there were more than enough local detractors – and Sinovac became a big question mark. How could it be safe if it came from China, whose Wuhan province was where COVID-19 was born? How could it be safe if our experts never mentioned Sinovac when they named only Pfizer and AstraZeneca in assessing their efficacy rates?

During a virtual press conference last March, Helen Yang, Sinovac’s country representative, said  70 million doses of the vaccine had been given in 30 countries and so far, there were no reports of adverse serious effects or deaths. She recalled that she felt some pain after her first jab but none after the second. Months later, when I remembered to compare her experience with mine, I felt lucky for having had no pain whatsoever.

The first time I heard that Sinovac was safe – from the experts’ mouths — was last Tuesday, when Dr. Rontgene Solante, infectious and tropical diseases expert, said so. The following day,  Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP, professor of biological sciences, wrote on Rappler: “All the numbers, including numbers from [Indonesia, Thailand and] the Philippines, suggest that the risk for severe illness and death has been dramatically mitigated by the vaccine,” Sinovac. “Rest assured,” Fr. Austriaco added, “Filipinos vaccinated with Sinovac are protected against serious disease, hospitalization, and death.” Next, DOH Secretary Duque rated Sinovac’s safety/efficacy as “pareho” (same as the others).

If China including Wuhan is no longer terrified of the virus, shouldn’t credit go to Sinovac and Sinopharm, millions of times? Now Thailand needs Sinovac to fill a supply gap.