THE first batch of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines from Sinovac Biotech is expected to arrive in the Philippines in a week, a company official said Wednesday, February 24, 2021.
Helen Yang, Sinovac Biotech Ltd. general manager, said in a virtual press briefing with Malacañang Wednesday that the product was ready for shipment and they were finalizing customs requirements.
“We are working very hard with our Philippines counterpart to prepare for the delivery. The product (has) been prepared, so we just need to finalize the procedures for the customs and we can choose the date for the flight,” Yang said from her office in Hong Kong.
“We will try our best to see whether we can deliver the products this week or next week. It will be very soon,” she added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in the same press briefing that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to witness the arrival of the vaccines.
“Alam mo, Pilipino tayo. Tumatanaw tayo ng utang na loob. Sa ating panahon ng pangangailangan, eh talaga namang ‘yung kaibigan nating Tsina ang nagpadala ng unang bakuna sa atin,” Roque said.
(We are Filipinos. We acknowledge a debt of gratitude to those who help us in times of need. Our friend China is the first to send vaccines to us.)
“Barring any glitches, nais pong sumalubong nga ni Presidente (the President wants to be there when the vaccines arrive),” he added.
Delivery of the first Sinovac vaccine shipment, which Malacañang said was supposed to happen on February 23, was delayed because of the lack of an emergency use authorization.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an EUA for the Sinovac vaccine only on Monday, February 23. An EUA allows the use of a vaccine under development during a public health emergency.
Yang said it would have been futile to deliver the vaccines if these could not be used due to the absence of an EUA.
The vaccine, called CoronaVac, is an inactivated vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech subsidiary Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd. in China. This contains Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, that has been killed so that it can’t make the recipient sick but can trigger an immune response.
In granting the EUA, the FDA said the vaccine will be administered in two doses at 0.5 ml each four weeks apart to clinically healthy individuals 18 to 59 years old.
It is not recommended for healthcare workers who are exposed to Covid-19 patients because the clinical trials in Brazil that involved healthcare workers dealing directly with Covid-19 patients showed an efficacy rate of only 50.38 percent against the disease.
The vaccine, however, 100-percent prevented hospitalization and showed an efficacy of 78 percent among volunteers with mild to severe symptoms, Yang said.
In Turkey, phase 2 clinical trials among healthy adults showed an efficacy of 91.5 percent.
Indonesia earlier announced that its clinical trial for Sinovac among ordinary citizens yielded an efficacy rate of 65.3 percent. Indonesia issued an EUA for Sinovac on January 11, 2021.
Clinical trials for the use of Sinovac vaccine among individuals who are 60 years old and above are still ongoing.
“The inactivated vaccine has already proved (to be) very safe,” Yang said.
As of Wednesday, she said the vaccine has been administered on over 20 million people, both in China and outside of China.
Twelve countries have already received the Sinovac vaccine, including Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Colombia.
The number will increase to 15 by the end of this week, Yang said.
Common symptoms from the Sinovac vaccine are pain at the injection point, headache and fatigue. There has been no reports of deaths related to the vaccine, Yang added. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)