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Palace: IATF's OK of Sinovac use on health workers assurance of safety, benefits

Malacanang said Friday the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ approval of the recommendation of immunization experts to use Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine on health workers is a guarantee of safety and benefits.

“The IATF’s (Inter-Agency Task Force) approval of the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group is an assurance that the use of Sinovac is safe and beneficial to our healthcare workers,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

IATF is the government policy making body in its COVID-19 response and is chaired by the DOH.

“The Palace welcomes the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to use Sinovac for healthcare workers. As we have said in many occasions, healthcare workers are the most critical frontliners in our fight against COVID-19 and they remain at the top of our priority list for vaccination,” Roque added.

The 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the country on Sunday afternoon, February 28. Of the number, 100,000 doses were reserved for the Armed Forces of the Philippines tapped to secure the transport of COVID-19 vaccines to health care facilities.

Sinovac is administered in two doses and has been found to have an efficacy rate of 65% to 91% among clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old, based on the findings of the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA  granted emergency use authorization to Sinovac on Monday but did not recommend it for health workers, the top priority in the vaccination program, due to its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% in the said group.

Roque earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the FDA decision.

“Ipinatawag po si Undersecretary (FDA director General Eric) Domingo, at naiparating ni Presidente iyong kaniyang pagtataka kung bakit may ganitong colatilla ‘no. Nirerespeto po ng Presidente ang opinyon ng mga experts kaya  let the colatilla remain,” Roque said.

“Pero ang mga tanong nga lang po, eh kung ang [World Health Organization] mismo nagsabi 50% is the threshold, ang tanong niya, eh bakit kinakailangan mag-colatilla kung ang WHO mismo nagsabi, 50% efficacy is acceptable,” he added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the FDA recommendation does not prohibit health workers from getting the Sinovac shot while those who will decline will not lose their priority status.—AOL, GMA News