Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial President of the Philippines, hasn’t really embraced, nor even appreciated, the past good relations between the United States and his country. After all, the two have long been synergistic on a number of fronts. Once a territory based on the victory of the Spanish-American War, now Duterte took a swipe at the German-American vaccine from Pfizer. When discussing which vaccine he would recommend on a late-night television show, he pointed out that Filipinos should essentially be leery of the Pfizer vaccine given the recent deaths of elderly people in Norway. Reuters reported that the President declared, “Almost everybody that I known (is) scrambling to buy this Pfizer (vaccine). To me I think it’s a good one.” He continued, “If you want to follow the experience of Norway, go ahead, nobody would stop you.” Covered by TrialSite, the recent incident in Norway hasn’t changed their formal vaccination policy. But Duterte, who is generally known to be aligned with China against the USA, played vaccine politics recommending the CoronaVac vaccine made by Sinovac. However, the Politician doesn’t necessarily offer the best advice—nor is he credentialed to do so. As it turns out, the efficacy rate associated with the Pfizer vaccine is far higher than CoronaVac; moreover, Pfizer has provided far more transparency along the way, disclosing protocols, conducting Phase 3 clinical trials and the like. CoronaVac was rushed into various forms of informal emergency use by the Chinese government while they competed against other Chinese and Russia vaccine makers for Phase 3 home countries. The Philippines is just one such place.
COVID-19 in Philippines
The Philippines has recorded just over half-a-million cases of COVID-19 with just over 10,000 deaths. The country has been hit hardest by COVID-19 than others in the region.
Philippines Regulatory Authorizes Pfizer
The Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) went ahead and gave the greenlight for the emergency use clause in that country, making it the first vaccine to be authorized in the Southeast Asian country.
That’s a good thing. Despite the incidents in Norway, the adverse event data reviewed in America showcases a highly effective and safe vaccine. Of course, much isn’t really known—such as how long will the vaccine protect a person? Does it protect against these new strains emerging? Partially because we have limited data, we cannot know all the answers. This will only emerge with use and associated data. But based on review of the existing data, the Pfizer vaccine, originally developed in Germany, is possibly the world’s top COVID-19 vaccine.
Reuters reports that the Philippine government hopes to commence immunization next month and will treat a total of 70 million (two thirds of the population). A former military chief, Carlito Galvez confirmed that the country has undertaken vaccine deals with Novavax, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.
The Philippines President has employed the ex-military chief to run the vaccination program, and to keep some possibly corrupt senators in check as well.
Where is Sinovac being used?
TrialSite recently reported it was selected by Brazil and is also used by Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Emirates. To date, there have been no reported deaths thus far.