The Chinese-made Covid19 Sinovac (trade name: CoronaVac) vaccine – on which the Philippines is desperately pinning its hopes for economic recovery – has been cleared for emergency use application globally by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a statement, WHO said this imprimatur would “give countries, funders, procuring agencies and communities the assurance that it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing.”
Sinovac is the second Chinese vaccine (after Sinopharm, which was earlier given to President Duterte) to have been cleared by WHO which should go a long way in boosting the confidence of millions of Filipinos in Chinese-developed jabs.
In including Sinovac in its Emergency Use List (EUL), Dr. Maria Angela Simao, WHO Assistant Director for Access to Health Products, said the agency is vouching for its quality, safety and efficacy as well as its risk management plans.
Apart from Sinovac, the other vaccine brands in WHO’s emergency use listing are Pfizer, AstraZeneca-SK Bio, AstraZeneca EU, Sinopharm, Janssen, Serum Institute of India and Moderna.
With the entry of Sinovac into the WHO’s emergency listing, Secretary Silvestre Bello said it is hoped that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) would now allow the “automatic entry” of Pinoy OFWs instead of requiring them to undergo a 10-day quarantine due to an intense distrust in the Chinese vaccine.
Two weeks ago, the Philippine government temporarily suspended the deployment of OFWs to the KSA over the discrimination of Saudi officials against Filipinos as those injected with Sinovac were being forced to be quarantined – unlike other incoming passengers inoculated with Western brands like Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca who are given unhampered passage through immigration.
WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts and Immunization (SAGE) recommended Sinovac for use in adults 18 years and above in a two-dose schedule spaced two to four weeks apart.
SAGE found that Sinovac prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of those dosed and prevented severe Covid19 and hospitalization in 100 % of the clinical trial population.
Wire reports claimed that Indonesia’s health ministry had found Sinovac, in a study involving 120,000 frontline workers, to be 94 percent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid.
The emergency use listing, according to WHO officials, assesses the suitability of novel health products (like Sinovac) during public health emergencies.
The assessment weighs the threat posed by the emergency as well as the benefit that would accrue from the use of the product against potential risks.
The Beijing-based Sinovac pharmaceutical company has reportedly supplied over 600 million doses of its vaccine at home and abroad as of May 31, and the Philippines has a standing order for 40 million doses scheduled for delivery later this month
WHO said its accreditation officials studied additional clinical data generated from vaccine trials and deployment on a rolling basis to ensure the vaccine meets the necessary standards of quality, safety and efficacy for broader availability.