FDA only 'flagged' 50% efficacy of Sinovac, but still safe for health workers, Vergeire says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire clarified on Friday that the Food and Drug Administration only "flagged" the 50% efficacy of China’s Sinovac vaccine, thus it may still be given to health workers.

"Hindi po nya [FDA] sinabing bawal, hindi rin nya pong sinabing contraindicated," Vergeire said in a briefing. "Ang sabi po nya, fina-flag nya po ang Philippine government dahil nakita doon sa mga pag-evaluate nila mababa ang laban against mild disease."

[Translation: The FDA did not say this (CoronaVac) cannot be used and is contraindicated. It just alerted the Philippine government since based on its evaluation, the vaccine has low efficacy against mild disease.]

She noted that looking at the whole information available, CoronaVac is 100% effective against severe COVID-19 and hospitalization, and 70% effective to prevent moderate cases.

The FDA granted Sinovac Emergency Use Authorization on February 22 to be administered only to clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59. FDA Director General Eric Domingo earlier said this is not the best vaccine for medical frontliners given its 50.4% efficacy to those exposed to COVID-19 patients, and is therefore not recommended for use in the group.

After thorough evaluation, Vergeire also said during the briefing that the country's health experts have agreed to recommend the CoronaVac's use for health workers since this will be the first one available, making sure they are provided with the protection they need amid the pandemic.

On Sunday, 600,000 doses of CoronaVac are expected to arrive, with healthcare workers the first to be inoculated. However, they are still given the chance to decide whether to receive the shots based on their personal risk assessment.