Real-world data among considerations for allowing use of Sinovac vaccine on senior citizens

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 8) — The side effects of Sinovac vaccine among some senior citizens were "within acceptable levels," prompting the Food and Drug Administration to approve its use among the elderly population in light of the shortage in COVID-19 vaccine supply.

FDA Director General Rolando Domingo on Thursday said the decision was based on the inoculation of over 700 local healthcare workers aged 60 years old and above and who earlier gave their consent to receive the Sinovac shots.

“Nakita naman po natin na ‘yung adverse events following immunization of senior citizens ng vaccine ng Sinovac ay mababa lamang at within acceptable levels,” Domingo said in a briefing.

[Translation: We saw that the adverse events following immunization of senior citizens with Sinovac vaccine were minimal and within acceptable levels.]

The FDA previously recommended the use of Sinovac’s CoronaVac on clinically healthy individuals aged 18-59.

READ: FDA approves use of Sinovac vaccine on senior citizens 

Another consideration, according to Domingo, was the lack of other available vaccines amid high COVID-19 transmission rates in the country especially within the NCR Plus composed of Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and Cavite.

Domingo, however, hastened to clarify that they will not rescind the decision to allow giving Sinovac shots to senior citizens even if more vaccine supplies arrive in the country.

That is, if “actual, real-life experience” would show the vaccine is safe and effective on that demographic, he said.

Only two vaccines — those made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca — are currently being used in the local COVID-19 vaccination drive.

The Department of Health earlier said that the country has run out of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is recommended for senior citizens.

The DOH has expressed hope the next batch of AstraZeneca doses will arrive next month.