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Gov’t flip-flops on use of Sinovac for health care workers; leaves both netizens and HCWs confused

Duterte’s penchant for flip-flopping on statements seems to have trickled down to his subordinates.

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said CoronaVac should not be used for healthcare workers and senior citizens, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) just approved its use for healthcare workers.

In a surprise move last Friday, February 26, health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced that the IATF has approved the proposal from the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and the Department of Health-Technical Advisory Group (TAG)).

According to Vergeire, health experts from NITAG and TAG said CoronaVac, Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, said it will be “beneficial for healthcare workers”. NITAG and TAG presented their proposal to the IATF that same morning and they were able to get the approval right away.

This news left netizens confused, as the FDA had previously advised against using CoronaVac for healthcare workers who had frequent exposure to COVID-19 patients.

PBB alum Dr. Aura Azarcon, a healthcare worker herself, had this to say about the recommendation from the IATF.

She even had plans to post a video on her YouTube channel convincing her followers that COVID-19 vaccines were safe—until the FDA approved Sinovac’s emergency use authority.

Some netizens are still reeling from the announcement made last Friday.

Some have also questioned whether NITAG had access to data from Sinovac’s clinical trials—and simply refused to make that information public.

Former IATF consultant Dr. Tony Leachon pointed out how messy the IATF’s messaging has been about Sinovac.

The situation was so dire that medical staff from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) staged a strike over their lunch hour to show how much they opposed the recommendation.

The PGH Physician’s Association also issued a statement earlier today, February 27, after PGH administration said it was ready to “take whatever vaccine becomes available.”

This has led to people crying foul for PGH medical staff.

To date, reception of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine is still cold for Filipinos, with most looking to opt out of any vaccinations involving CoronaVac.

The IATF, for its part, continues to convince people that CoronaVac is safe to use; however, data from Brazil has shown that its efficacy rate only matches those of other vaccines when taken by “clinically healthy” individuals aged 18 – 59 years old.

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