In an online forum organized by the Confucius Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Health Dr. Beverly Lorraine C. Ho clarified that the COVID-19 vaccines — including the China-made Sinovac vaccine — are safe for use.
This comes amidst much talk and debate on whether the vaccines, which have all been developed within a year of the start of the pandemic, are safe. It also comes amidst news of the presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Approvals have been stamped.
According to Ho, the approval of competent medical authorities — such as the World Health Organization, the Department of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration — should assure the public of the vaccines’ safety.
Responding to a question on whether the Sinovac vaccine was safe, Ho said, “Rest assured that if something bad is in those vaccines, they wouldn’t have passed through the approval process.”
“For us, anything that the FDA has already put its stamp on, those are already comparable vaccines. For now, the four vaccines that have been approved are all comparable.” Ho was referring to the Sinovac-Coronavac, AstraZeneca-AZD1222, Gamaleya-Sputnik V, and the Pfizer-BNT162b2 vaccines. All of these vaccines have been approved by the Philippines and countries around the world, too.
As a testament to the vaccines’ approval, Ho pointed out that medical professionals themselves — the actual vaccine experts — have taken the vaccines as they arrived.
“At the first phase of the vaccination process, our goal was to get healthcare workers on board. This is not just because they are injectees or vaccinees, but they’re going to be the best champions. So, what we’ve seen, is that the inoculation of healthcare workers has created a bandwagon effect,” Ho said.
Ho hopes that the public would emulate the example of the medical professionals in receiving the vaccines and encouraging others to do so.
“The entire science of vaccinology is not built overnight. The vaccines may have come quickly, but that’s really because of years, decades actually, of scientific studies already,” Ho said.
The public shouldn’t be afraid of getting the COVID-19 vaccines.
Ho gave scientific data to point out why the public shouldn’t be afraid of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“To this date, 128 million people in the world have had COVID and 2.8 million people have died, at least registered death,” Ho said.
But she was also quick to mention that “Of that, you’ll see that in the world, around 559 million doses have already been deployed, and even if you’ve read a lot of things that [say] ‘Okay, this person got the vaccine, died from whatever’, so far, all of the medical authorities globally that are studying this [have said that] the deaths caused by COVID vaccines is still zero.”
In terms of actual vaccine rollout to the public, Ho mentioned that each “vaccine tent” has an ambulance that is within reach of a hospital should anything happen. There is a process in each vaccine rollout location, and it’s not simply about showing up and getting the jab.
“They wouldn’t really set up a tent, a vaccination tent, there if there’s no ambulance and there’s no way to reach a hospital in x number of minutes,” Ho pointed out.
The pandemic won’t end unless the majority of the public are vaccinated.
Ho echoed the call of fellow medical doctors in saying that the vaccines are essential for the pandemic to end. To help protect those who may be unable to take vaccines — such as those in their first trimester of pregnancy — most of those who are eligible must receive the vaccines.
“This is the concept of herd immunity that we actually want to impart to all of you, that’s why we need as many of us to get vaccinated: it’s not enough that it’s just you [and] your family. Your enter workplace as much as possible should be vaccinated, your entire community as much as possible.”
The author of this article:
Aaron covers topics that range from business and ethics to culture and philosophy. He is currently a CHiNOY TV producer, a Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent, a Philippine Association for Chinese Studies lifetime member, and an Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program constituent. An occasional TikToker, he also loves Pokémon! Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.joseph.s.medina/