FAIR COMMENT | Alito L. Malinao
In one of my previous columns I expressed my misgivings in getting myself vaccinated with anti-Covid vaccine. It was our family doctor, Dr. Oscar Calim, who retired a few years back as health officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, who told me that there is no need for vaccination if you have a strong immune system. He then recommended a daily dose of virgin coconut oil (VCO) to fight the virus.
But I have changed my mind. Last week, I and my wife got our first dose of Sinovac. There are two main reasons that prompted me to get the jab. One, is the current situation in our country where cases continue to rise despite restrictions imposed by the government. What is most worrisome is the number of deaths that has kept on rising above the 100 mark. This means that our health care facilities are inadequate to save lives.
The second reason is what happened, and still happening, in India where infections and deaths have surged to millions in just a matter of days. It is just terrifying to see victims of the virus burned in funeral pyres because crematoriums are full and victims being given oxygen inside their vehicles because there are no hospital beds to accommodate them.
Because of these, I decided that vaccination is the only option if we want to prolong our life a little especially since I and my wife are in our late seventies and part of the vulnerable sector.
Actually, we don’t have a choice. The China-made Sinovac and British-made AstraZeneca are the only available vaccines now in the country. The country has 5 million doses of Sinovac, 1 million as donation and the remainder we purchased from China, thus we are assured of our second dose which is scheduled to be administered at the end of the month.
According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, one of the country’s top infectious disease experts, Sinovac could have better efficacy in the Philippines where the daily attack rate of Covid-19 is lower than in Brazil. In clinical trials held in Brazil, Sinovac shot yielded 50.4% efficacy among health workers attending to COVID-19 patients.
“If you are here in the Philippines, in which the attack rate is not as high as that during the trial conducted in Brazil, then it might have a better efficacy here in the Philippines,” Solante said.
Initially we would have preferred AstraZeneca because it has 76 percent efficacy compared to Sinovac’s 50-51 percent. But in March, 18 countries in Europe suspended the use of AstraZeneca because of reports of blood clotting among those vaccinated with the British vaccine. Most countries have now resumed using AstraZeneca except for Denmark which has totally stopped using the vaccine.
In March, our own Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also suspended the use of AstraZeneca but later rescinded its order and allowed the vaccine to be administered in the country, saying that the benefits derived from the vaccine outweigh the risks.
Aside from enough supply, the other reason why we preferred Sinovac is it is being used by two of the world’s most populous Muslim countries, Indonesia and Turkey. Both Indonesian President Widodo and Turkish President Erdogan got themselves vaccinated with Sinovac in public.