COVID-19 jabs from West 'hard to come by', says Roque

Western-brand vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are simply hard to come by.

(Mark Balmores/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave this response Tuesday, Sept. 21 to reports that Davao City has shown low acceptability of Chinese-made vaccines, specifically Sinovac and Sinopharm.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio reportedly intends to relay this to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for possible action, which supposedly includes the purchase of more western-made jabs by the national government.

"On behalf of IATF, sino bang may ayaw ng western brands? Ang problema lang, talagang hindi natin nakukuha ang supply (who doesn't want western brands? The problem is, we really aren't getting the supply)," Roque said during his virtual press briefing.

"We ordered 40 million pero nakikita niyo naman (but as you can see) they come in trickles. Ang dumarating pa, mga COVAX supply, yung mga donated (Even then, it's the COVAX or donated supply that's arriving). Pero yung mga binibili natin, talagang (But when it comes to our procurement) they been coming in trickles," Roque said.

The global shortage in vaccine supply has been a recurring problem in the Philippines' mass inoculation program against COVID-19, which began on March 1, 2021.

Roque underscored that the Philippines is not alone in the queue for western vaccines.

"Lahat po tayo may preference, pero gustuhin man natin ang mga western brands, hindi po talaga dumarating (All of us have preferences, but even if we want to acquire western brands, they really haven't been coming). And the Philippines is not alone."

At this point, Roque thought it better to just remind Filipinos that all COVID-19 jabs approved for use in the Philippines are effective

"Lahat po ng pag-aaral ay nagpapakita na pati po ang Sinovac, ang mga Chinese vaccines ay epektibo po laban sa seryosong pagkakasakit at laban sa kamatayang dulot ng COVID-19 (All of the studies show that Chinese vaccines like Sinovac are effective in protecting against severe illness and death caused by COVID-19)," he said.

Of the 64.9 million vaccines that have been acquired by the Philippines, over half--36 million--are Sinovac.

The number of received doses of the Pfizer vaccine--arguably the most preferred among the western brands--stand at 9,178,650 as of Sept. 20.