Sinovac performs ‘at par’ with Western-made vaccines, Galvez contends

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) — Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday said China’s Sinovac vaccine “is performing well and at par” with shots made by Western brands.

He made the statement on the heels of calls for the government to purchase COVID-19 shots that have higher efficacy rates.

For one, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said, “when it comes to the life of millions of Filipinos and the future of the country, there should be no price tag. We can buy the most expensive vaccines with high efficacy.”

Earlier reports also said that a number of Indonesian medical workers who received Sinovac shots got infected by the virus.

In his statement, Galvez explained that all vaccines being used in the country passed through a rigorous review by the vaccine expert panel (VEP), which is composed of top doctors and vaccine specialists.

“We listen and follow the panel’s assessment on what vaccines to procure to ensure that they are all safe and effective regardless of brands,” he said.

“In fact, we have seen that all vaccines that have been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by our Food and Drug Administration are performing well in the real-world conditions compared to their clinical trial results,” he added.

Citing real-world data provided by the panel, Galvez said the China-made vaccine is 90% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 cases and deaths in Uruguay, and 94% effective in protecting healthcare workers in Indonesia.

Amid concerns on its efficacy against the more transmissible Delta variant, he said the VEP has discouraged concluding early in the matter since studies are still ongoing.

“We ensure that all the policies that we craft and implement are science-based and evidence-based,” Galvez reiterated.

“I will always consider the advice of our experts and not from people who do not want to listen to more prudent and deliberate decision-making," he also said.

The FDA granted Sinovac an EUA in February. Based on its evaluation, it showed 65.3% to 91.2% efficacy rate when used on healthy people aged 18 to 59. For health workers directly exposed to COVID-19 patients, efficacy is at 50.4%.

To date, the Philippines has received over 17 million coronavirus shots from Sinovac, as well as AstraZeneca, Gamaleya, Pfizer, and Moderna.

More than 10 million Filipinos have received their vaccine dose, of which around 2.5 million are now fully protected from the deadly virus.

By the end of the year, the government hopes to immunize up to 70 million individuals.