The use of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, the first that  will arrive in the Philippines , is not recommended for the healthcare workers, said Food and Drug Director Gen, Eric Domingo.

Domingo issued the statement on February 22 after he announced the approval of the controversial Chinese vaccine  for emergency use in the Philippines.

“It has a lower efficacy rate of 50.4 percent when used on healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19. Therefore, it is not recommended for use in this group,” noted Domingo.

He related that when Sinovac was given to health workers working in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in Brazil, the vaccine only had an efficacy rate of 50.4 percent.

“This is better than nothing but the recommendation of experts is that it is not the best vaccine for health workers,” said Domingo.

The 1,762,994 health workers top the country’s list of priority sectors to receive COVID-19 vaccines once supplies arrive.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said it will take China three to five days to prepare the shipment of 600,000 doses it is donating to the Philippines.

Sen. Joel Villanueva said regulators can refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing. The WHO set up the list to expedite the approval process of COVID-19 vaccines bearing in mind that scientific data should be the primary basis when accrediting vaccines.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he prefers  Sinovac or Sinopharm. He said these two vaccines can be used with no human intervention or possible human error because it’s one vial, one dose and the syringe is attached. 

“The others are five dose vials that have to be diluted and dispensed very carefully to avoid overdose or underdose. Then we have to buy syringes separately. I hope people realize that,” he said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said it is unfortunate that the Sinovac vaccine was the first to arrive in the country. “But this was not what we were made to expect during the Committee of the Whole hearings when we were told the Covax vaccines would be arriving by this time,” he added.