Frontliners need better protection vs. COVID-19, expert says amid FDA advice on Sinovac vaccine use

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23)— Healthcare workers should be prioritized for vaccines with higher efficacy as they need better protection against the coronavirus, a member of the pandemic frontliners stressed on Tuesday.

This comes following concerns on the emergency use authorization recently granted to China’s Sinovac vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration cautioned is not the best product for healthcare workers. Sinovac reported an efficacy rate of around 50.4% in late-stage vaccine trials in Brazil, slightly above the World Health Organization’s minimum standard but lower than those of other brands in the market.

“You’re at risk of getting the infection every day because you’re seeing this patient and you are only protected 50%, that’s quite a high risk -– 50/50 ‘yan eh,” infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante told CNN Philippines’ The Source when asked to react on the FDA’s recommendation.

“There are available vaccines that have higher efficacy. We want to get a better efficacy so that we will be putting the health care workers in a better position, protected in taking care of the patient. And that for me is logical,” he added.

Solante, however, noted he would not refuse to get inoculated with the China-made vaccine — if it was the only option available.

“50%, [is] better than zero,” Solante argued. “ [But] if there’s a possibility we can get a higher efficacy for our healthcare workers, then we have to prioritize that because they’re the ones taking care of our patients.”

The FDA announced Monday it was granting the EUA for the Chinese firm’s vaccine following a long review of its application, which was earlier hampered by the incomplete submission of Phase 3 clinical trial data. A number of lawmakers questioned the approval, given that it came with a warning from the regulatory agency that the product was not the most ideal for frontliners and senior citizens due to its lower efficacy rate.

READ: Senators say FDA advice vs. Sinovac use on some priority sectors raises more questions on emergency approval

For his part, health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon commended the FDA for its “bold move” to publicize the recommendation on Sinovac’s use.

May pinagbatayan po sila (they had basis),” Leachon said in the same program.