The Palace supported the proposal of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to vaccinate citizens ages 60 and up with the China-based Sinovac vaccine.
During a press briefing on March 18, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated that there are already many countries that opted to use Sinovac for the elderly.
“We are supportive [of Secretary Galvez’s suggestion]. Napakaraming bansa na po ang gumamit ng Sinovac sa senior citizens,” Roque said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac’s vaccine, however, they did not recommend for it to be given to healthcare workers who are highly exposed to the virus, and the elderly. The organization added that the vaccine is recommended for individuals 18 to 59 years of age.
Roque then said that Sinovac will present additional data to the FDA to change its recommendation.
“Steps will be taken [on this suggestion]. The local representative of Sinovac will present additional data to FDA para mabago iyong EUA.”
FDA director-general Eric Domingo then told ABS-CBN‘s TeleRadyo that they will only change the advisory if there is evidence that it has been used on people 59 years or older.
“As of now kasi, ‘yung data submitted to us, the clinical trial Phase 3, talagang 18- to 59-year-olds lamang.
“Hindi naman natin sinasabi na makakasama siya sa matanda. Kaya lang, di natin alam efficacy niya, di natin alam safety profile sa older individuals.”
Netizens reacted to the plans and said that if it will be proven to be safe for the elderly, “why not?”
If Sinovac has safety data in seniors, why not. However, I really don't like the hypocrisy of our leaders here when other elderly world leaders had themselves jabbed with the same vax.
— Carlo Trinidad, MD (@hellokidneyMD) March 17, 2021
Others suggested that the seniors in the government should be the first ones to be jabbed with Sinovac.
Just have seniors in the govt vaccinated with sinovac.. https://t.co/gRQ9qVCPU8
— Alan Gabriel (@alansgabriel) March 19, 2021
In February 2021, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that he is not be receiving the Sinovac shots as EUA provisions exclude 60 and above.
“He also underscores that we will follow the prioritization framework, and will ensure that limited doses will go to the [healthcare workers] first,” said the DOH in a Viber message.
Aside from Duque, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said that he will not receive the Sinovac shots due to his age. The two officials are 64 and 72 years old, respectively.
President Rodrigo Duterte, on the other hand, said that he is willing to receive doses of the Sinovac CoronaVac, but “behind close doors.”
Senator Kiko Pangilinan also questioned the decision, urging Duque to explain why it’s okay for seniors to take Sinovac when they rejected it themselves.
Saan puede ipaliwanag ng maayos nina Duque bakit di sila nagpaturok ng Sinovac dahil as oer FDA seniors sila dahil over 59 yrs old pero ngayon ok na ibibigay ito sa milyun milyon nating mga senior citizens? Diba dapat pinoprotektahan natin sila at hindi lang mga sarili? pic.twitter.com/iUcerKAygI
— Kiko Pangilinan (@kikopangilinan) March 17, 2021
“What makes Filipino seniors any different from you?” a Twitter user asked the government officials.
See why we need evidence-based medicine & not just rely on what these officials say? They’d bring up their old age to not get vaccinated with Sinovac but offer this vaccine to seniors in the masses, why? What makes Filipino seniors any different from you? https://t.co/SZibAiNts5
— Pinas Medisina (@pinasmedisina) March 17, 2021
A Netizen then accused the officials of hoarding AstraZeneca in the guise of an aim to dispose of Sinovac first by “forcing” it on healthcare workers.
Are they hoarding the AstraZeneca? It would appear that the aim is to dispose the Sinovac first; force it upon the throat of our health workers and some indigent seniors?
A million more Sinovac coming in by month end…So, Astra can be diverted to the gov't, incl. PNP and AFP? https://t.co/llgQgXw95n
— AkoNgaSyLico 璃乎. リコ. りこ. #DutertePalpak (@SyLicoNgaAko) March 16, 2021
“The recommendation was a sham,” a netizen said regarding the FDA’s provision with Sinovac.
That recommendation was a sham. Sinovac was used in Hong Kong to vaccinate seniors.
— Mali John, Jr. (@FouSurLaColline) March 17, 2021
Another then said that her sister was vaccinated with Sinovac even though Pfizer is the one that stipulated in the consent form.
As someone working in a hospital under DOH, nabakunahan na si Ate. Sinovac, kahit daw Pfizer yung inindicate nila sa consent.
And with this news, we have to check availability sa LGU ng vaccine for Mama and Papa who are seniors. [Sighs] https://t.co/q4KIHnT6WG
— elijah finish thesis now (@iamsireeluhy) March 8, 2021
Someone asked if Duterte and Duque want senior citizens dead with their current suggestion.
Kung ang president at secretary of health takot sa Sinovac, bakit dapat seniors hindi?!?
— Tita Pogi (@TitaPogi) March 18, 2021
Around 4 million senior citizens are currently in the government’s master list of inoculation; but Galvez added that it might eventually reach 9 million.