A forklift off-loads boxes of vaccines from a Chinese military aircraft at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Sunday (Feb. 28, 2021). These are then loaded into the cold delivery trucks and transported to the storage facilities of the Philippine General Hospital n Manila and Metropac Logistics in Marikina City. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

Low trust for Sinovac

The recent frenzy over the delayed arrival of vaccines in the Philippines shifts to trust because medical frontliners do not want to be injected with Sinovac which government preferred despite the 50% efficacy.

Doctors and nurses called government’s approach to the procurement of the vaccine as incoherent, incompetent and self-serving. They felt they did not deserve the best vaccine, only what is available.

It is highly doubtful top government officials, including noisy senators and congressmen (noisy because of posturing for next year’s elections), would get in front of the line for the first batch of Sinovac injections.

Anyway, many of them already got the vaccine from donated (translation: SMUGGLED) Sinovac given by high connected Filipino-Chinese friends. To non-friends, the vaccine is sold at hundreds of thousands of pesos per dose.

When frontliners backed out from the priority list, Malacanang pushed up those in the lower groups – economic frontliners (farmers, fishermen, agricultural workers), women and children.

A vaccine that is suspected by doctors to be dangerous will be administered to women and children, that’s government’s plan.

Self-serving, flimsy statements that try to convince Filipinos that Sinovac is safe are coming from the manufacturer, those who had suspicious dealings with the manufacturer and those not familiar with what is a vaccine.

Sequence of official statements:

  • Sinovac will be the first vaccine to arrive.
  • Sinovac is not suitable for medical frontliners according to the manufacturer.
  • Frontliners should get Sinovac.
  • Sinovac is also good for frontliners.
  • Frontliners will not be forced to take Sinovac; they can choose from other vaccines yet to arrive.

They are downplaying Sinovac’s low efficacy after its high price was revealed to have been sourced from Google. Now, we are receiving the first vaccine through donated (free) Sinovac.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out someone is trying to make money from Sinovac.

What is more surprising is the announced further delay in arrival of the other vaccines – 3rd to 4th quarter. Is someone trying to make Sinovac the only available vaccine to manipulate demand?

When Pzifer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson vaccines become available, demand for Sinovac will plunge.

As of now, Filipinos will most likely accept any vaccine, except Sinovac. The chance to build trust for Sinovac is gone, even with the President’s dubious assurances.

Finally, the Philippines is no longer the only country in Southeast Asia yet to get a vaccine. We still have one distinction – we are the only country in SEA yet to re-open schools for face-to-face learning.

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