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President Rodrigo Duterte / PCOO

Expert prefers Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines

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A member of a panel of vaccine experts recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte be given a vaccine that has already undergone Phase III clinical trials, according to a report by GMA News.

“Pfizer, those with published Phase III trials, the Moderna and Astra[Zeneca],” Dr. Rontgene Solante said in Joseph Morong’s report on “24 Oras.”

“We haven’t reviewed yet Sinovac,” he added.


Phase III trials are the penultimate step in a four-phase process for approving vaccines, drugs and other medical interventions. According to the World Health Organization, Phase III trials "are conducted on larger populations and in different regions and countries, and are often the step right before a new treatment is approved."

Sinovac, a Chinese firm, is currently carrying out Phase III trials in some countries for its COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac.

In November, German firm BioNTech and US multinational partner Pfizer completed the Phase III trials for its COVID-19 vaccine with 95-percent efficacy. Last week, it became the first to be granted emergency use authorization (EUA) in the Philippines.

Also in November, US company Moderna published the results of its Phase III trials, with its vaccine showing 94-percent efficacy.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, reported a 62-percent efficacy for two full doses and a 90- percent efficacy for a half-dose followed by a full dose for the vaccine it developed with Oxford University. Its CEO, however, believes that the company has figured out the formula to bring its efficacy up to par with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. 

Solante said it is important to see the data from the Phase III clinical trials before inoculation.

“Ang tinitingnan talaga muna namin is, una, ‘yong safety of the vaccine and I think so far among the three, although ang Pfizer ang nabigyan ng EUA, but for most of these vaccines, they cannot really proceed to Phase III unless they are not safe so most of the vaccines now are really safe,” he said.

“Himay-himayin na lang natin siguro to the point na ang gusto nating makita ngayon [ay] dapat mayroon na silang Phase III data kasi importante ‘yan kasi at least na-test mo na ‘yan or nabigay mo na sa karamihan so you can see the trend in terms of how effective and safe the vaccine is,” Solante added.

Moreover, he said he sees no problem in vaccinating Duterte despite his being 75 years old already.

“In fact, the presence of comorbidities will make us prioritize these individuals with comorbidities because they are the persons with higher risk of more severe COVID,” Solante said.

Duterte earlier disdained Western vaccine makers, accusing them of having a for-profit mentality, and expressing a preference for vaccines developed by China or Russia.

Earlier, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque appealed to the public to wait for Duterte’s decision on whether he would be first or last to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

“Minsan sinabi niya magpapauna siya, ‘di na siya makaantay pero ‘yong huling sinabi niya, dapat mauna na muna ang mahihirap. So hintayin na lang natin kung ano ang magiging personal na desisyon ng presidente. If he wants it public, well, seeing the president being vaccinated is proof of the pudding. So hayaan po natin, hintayin natin ang desisyon ng ating presidente,” Roque said.

Last week, Duterte said he would be among the last to get the vaccine, saying again that uniformed personnel and the poor should be prioritized, against the Department of Health's own list that places frontline health workers at the top.

This contradicted his earlier remarks that he'd be among the first to get inoculated against COVID-19 once a vaccine is available in the country.

On Monday, however, Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said that the President would be willing to be the first vaccinated, to allay vaccine fears. A recent study found that almost half of Filipinos were "not inclined" to get vaccinated against the virus.

The Philippines is expecting its first COVID-19 vaccine supply by February. 

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