Leaving a Legacy by C. de los Angeles
With the Philippine Government claiming to prefer Sinovac and almost ignoring other brands including fellow Chinese vaccine made by Sinopharm.
Aside from similar names they are also using the tried and test method or traditional way of making vaccines which is the use of inactivated or killed COVID-19 virus. Inactivated virus vaccines have long been used for inoculation. While other companies such as Moderna and Pfizer are using more modern technologies such as RNA vaccines, though inactivated virus vaccines are tried and tested. However, it is said to be more difficult to manufacture, among other limitations.
Sinopharm has two vaccines in development, one developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and another by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products. Both the Wuhan and the Beijing vaccines use the inactivated virus cultivated in vero cells or kidney epithelial cells from the African Green Monkey.
Sinopharm announced on Wednesday that its Beijing vaccine was 79% effective.Meanwhile, Sinovac previously said its vaccine was 50% effective, which the Department of Science and Technology said was “acceptable.”
Sinopharm or the China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp. is a state-owned enterprise in China. According to its website (reference: https://www.sinopharm.com/en/1398.html), the healthcare group has 128,000 employees and over 1,100 subsidiaries. It claims to be the world’s 6th largest vaccine manufacturer, producing all vaccines for China’s National Vaccination Program. Besides developing vaccines, it also distributes drugs and medical devices.On the other hand, Sinovac is a private firm that has developed vaccines for influenza and hepatitis. According to a Time article (reference: https://time.com/5872081/sinovac-covid19-coronavirus-vaccine-coronavac/), Sinovac was the only vaccine developer to reach Phase 1 clinical trials during the SARS outbreak in 2002 to 2003. It was that work that allowed the company to get a head start on their COVID-19 vaccine.
During the Senate hearing on vaccinations last Friday, it was learned from Sec. Galvez that they can not give an indicative date or volume as they await COVAX. While Sen. Binay quoting one of the resource persons that the delivery volume will be 50,000 for February. Representatives from Sinopharm have relayed that last December 20 million doses were allotted to the Philippines, however inaction on their letter requests by the DOH and FDA caused the allocation to be given to the UAE. UAE has already started administering their vaccines to their millions of citizens while the Philippines continues to argue and focus their attention solely on Sinovac. MGK Universal Drugs Trading Corporation, the local distributer of Sinopharm furthers there is a new allocation of 20 million doses for the Philippines and they will be filing their EUA this week.
The President and many senators including Sen. Miguel Zubiri, have expressed that if its approved in their home country, the Philippines should approve the vaccine as well for Emergency Use. Sen. Miguel Zubiri, further specified specific criteria, for the benefit of countrymen, in immediately approving vaccine.
According to Sen. Zubiri, regardless of country of origin the vaccines must meet these 4 criteria:
Safety – Passed all trials according to international standards and is being used worldwide
Efficacy – The Filipinos deserve a barely passing mark and should select a higher efficacy
Cost Efficiency – Consider also price so that our budget can be maximized
Roll Out – Which has stocks and how do we handle the logistical requirements to make the roll out as quick as possible
Sinopharm is approved in numerous countries worldwide, 20 million stocks are available now, and efficacy is comparable to other western vaccines.
Why are they being ignored?