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Senator Zubiri calls Chinese vaccine’s 50% efficacy ‘a joke!’

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 26, 2020 1:18 am

The numbers have been changing since early December. From 96% to 90%, and recently 50%.

Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech Ltd. has not published complete data or had results of its clinical trials peer-reviewed, leading to confusion as each county where it held large trials reported different results.

On Dec. 25, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed alarm over reports from Brazil saying the China-made vaccine was only over 50% effective.

Zubiri called it a joke. “That there’s a 50/50 chance of you getting COVID even after being vaccinated is a joke!” Zubiri said in a statement.

Senator Drilon said in a separate tatement, “While 50% efficacy meets the minimum requirement for vaccines, Sinovac’s reported 50% efficacy clearly pales in comparison with Pfizer and Moderna, and even AstraZeneca. I do not see how 50% efficacy can build public trust and confidence in vaccines.” 

The “safety of our people should come first, not the feelings of our Neighboring Friends,” Zubiri said in a statement.

In comparison, Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective while Moderna’s is 94.1% effective. Both vaccines have been rolled out in the US and UK, and are significantly lower in price than Sinovac’s.

Zubiri said it would be a “total waste” of public funds to purchase low-efficacy vaccines and asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to disregard “political or geopolitical reasons” in its search for vaccines for Filipinos.

The “safety of our people should come first, not the feelings of our Neighboring Friends,” Zubiri said. The efficacy, pricing and ease of distribution “must be harmonized to make sure we deliver to our people the vaccine that is cost effective but is efficient and deliverable. When we say efficient that means a high efficacy rate.”

Senator Frank Drilon pointed out, “We’re talking about the lives and the future of Filipinos here. We cannot accept ‘that will do’ when it comes to vaccines.”

It was reported 25 that following Sinovac’s trials Brazil, it was found that it was only 50 percent effective.

Sao Paulo state Health Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said on Brazil’s CBN Radio on Dec. 24 that the vaccine “didn’t reach 90%” efficacy, which would make it less successful than those developed by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. We don’t know how much more than 50% it was, whether it was 60%, 70% or 80%, but it’s at levels that allow us to reduce the impact of the disease on our population. We knew that the effectiveness would never reach 90%.”

Bloomberg reported on Dec. 25, “Adding to the confusion, Turkey said a trial of Sinovac’s vaccine taking place in its country showed an estimated efficacy rate of 91.25%. That trial, however, is based on only 29 cases, which is considered insufficient to draw a definitive conclusion on the shot’s effectiveness, according to the person familiar with the trials.”

On Dec. 14, vaccine czar and National Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. announced in a Malacañang press briefing that the government has asked Sinovac to deliver its COVID-19 vaccine to the country by March 2021.

“They said they are very confident that they will have the sources in April but we are negotiating that March will be our target,” Galvez said.

Unlike Asian neighbors, the Philippines did not place advanced orders from western vaccine makers Pfizer/BioNTech (US/Germany), Moderna (US) or Astra Zeneca (UK).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Dec. 15 denied that the Duterte administration favored vaccines made in China.