The Sinovac debate

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    ‘If this government had even a modicum of respect for our health workers, they should have worked to ensure that our frontliners would receive a vaccine that can afford to give the best protection for those who stare COVID-19 in the eye day in and day out.’

    IF you’ve checked in any of your social media accounts in the past days, you might have noticed the raging debate about the arrival of the donated Sinovac vaccines from China. It’s the first batch of vaccines to officially arrive in the country (I say “officially” because as we all know, jabs arrived for the blessed few some months back, even prior to the issuance of an EUA for its use) and has been met with mixed reactions.

    There are those adopting the “better than nothing at all” attitude, saying that any form of protection is better than no protection at all. There are those circulating articles attributed to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joseph “Joe” R. Biden, where Dr. Fauci encourages readers to take whatever vaccine is available to them, as these have been clinically found to provide protection against COVID-19. I do feel that there is a slight nuance to this, as the US FDA has only approved EUAs for three vaccines: (according to their official website) Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson.)

    Understandably, there is a lot of skepticism about the Sinovac jab, even if our other Asian neighbors like Indonesia and Cambodia have accepted its use. Everyone is waiting with bated breath whether Singapore will issue an EUA for Sinovac, given the island country’s reputation for high standards. As far as I’ve gathered, the main argument against Sinovac is the fact that their clinical data has not been put out there for scrutiny, unlike the others. That’s not exactly new for China, whose relationship with transparent data has always been hit-or-miss.

    I do understand perfectly the sentiments of our health workers when it comes to their objection at being inoculated with Sinovac; our own FDA chief Eric Domingo said that “According to our experts, (Sinovac’s) vaccine is not the best vaccine for them.” Domingo’s comment must have earned him dog house status with the people by the Pasig, who had to do extra damage control once our health workers pushed back at the vaccine choice for them.

    In my opinion, rightly so: our health workers have been carrying this country on their backs since the pandemic started, to the extent of being separated from their families because of their continued service. If this government had even a modicum of respect for our health workers, they should have worked to ensure that our frontliners would receive a vaccine that can afford to give the best protection for those who stare COVID-19 in the eye day in and day out. Shoving a vaccine with a less than desired efficacy shows only one thing: these praises showered by mouthpieces about the valiant efforts of our front liners are merely platitudes to be spouted when the cameras are rolling, nothing more.

    For the sake of our frontliners (and the rest of the populace), I hope this government gets its act together and finally delivers on what is needed to stop the tide of the pandemic. It’s time to show the people where you are spending all that money that you loaned for vaccines in the first place.