Vaccines from China's Sinopharm and Sinovac offer enough protection against COVID-19 to reduce the chances of hospitalization and death, infectious disease experts said Tuesday to convince those who prefer Western brands.
They were responding to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's call for the government to send U.S.-made jabs like Pfizer and Moderna instead of the Chinese-made ones, which are shunned by some people.
Based on a vaccine effectiveness study done in Davao City to understand how Delta works in the Philippine setting, clinical effectiveness for the vaccines alloted there was at 86.5% and protects against death by 97.5%, said molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said
"It's very important to tell our kababayans that the current vaccines in the Philippines, this is from last month (August), is still incredibly powerful at protecting Filipinos against the Delta variant," he said during government's Laging Handa briefing.
"The current mix of vaccines that have been deployed in Davao are effective and most of them are Sinovac. We just don't know how much," Austriaco said.
He also warned against waiting for western COVID-19 vaccine brands to arrive given that the U.S. has signaled the use of booster or third dose jabs.
"Huwag po tayo mabahala, mas importante po na maprotektahan natin against severe disease ang ating mga kababayan kaysa 'yung maghihintay tayo tapos tamaan tayo ng COVID, puwede pa tayong mamatay," infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana said.
The Davao mayor said on a Facebook post on Monday that the IATF should focus on purchasing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, preferred by those in the city, instead of Chinese brands.
"Paulit-ulit naman po nating sinasabi hindi lang po Philippine FDA ang nagsasabing ligtas at gumagana ang mga bakuna, pati ang WHO," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
"On behalf of IATF, sino ba ang may ayaw sa western brand? Ang problema lang talagang 'di natin nakukuha ang supply."
Salvana said that all FDA-approved vaccines work against the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.
FDA chief Eric Domingo said on Sept. 9 that out of 13.8 million fully-vaccinated individuals in the Philippines, only 242 breakthrough infections were recorded. That's 0.0017% of the fully-vaccinated individuals.
Five of those who contracted COVID-19 after being fully immunized died, said the FDA.
"Kaya dumadami ang breakthough infections ay dahil sa Delta, hindi dahil sa nagwe-wane ang immunity o hindi na gumagana ang vaccines... nananatili pong mataas na mataas 'yung effectiveness ng lahat ng vaccines natin against severe disease, hospitalization, and death."