Sinovac COVID-19 jabs for SPMC frontline health workers to start Friday, official says

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 March) – Frontline health workers of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) here will be injected starting Friday, March 5, with the Chinese-made CoronaVac, a vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) developed by Beijing-based pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech, an official said Monday.

The COVID-19 inoculation here will come five days after the arrival in Manila of 600,000 CoronaVac doses that were donated by China.

Dr. Ricardo Audan, SPMC officer-in-charge, said in a phone interview that he will be the first one to receive the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to shore up the confidence of SPMC workers.

“I volunteered to be the first one to receive it — as the leader of the SPMC — to increase the percentage of workers who will volunteer to get vaccinated. Even though I have a high-blood pressure (hypertension), I will show to them that the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine is very safe,” he said.

Audan said that the majority of the frontline workers of SPMC, or about 4,000 of the 5,900 employees, have earlier signed up to get vaccinated, but this was after being told that the vaccine that will be administered to them will either be Pfizer of the United States or AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom.

But he believed “that there is no change of heart among the SPMC workers who volunteered to be vaccinated, even after learning that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will be from Sinovac.”

SPMC is the primary health institution in the city catering to COVID-19 patients.

Audan said the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines met the minimum efficacy requirement of the World Health Organization of at least 50%, and had passed strict scrutiny during clinical trials.

He added that CoronaVac had already been used in other countries, among them Indonesia, Turkey and China.

Audan said the vaccines are expected to arrive in the city at the most on March 4 or 5 and will be administered within the compound of SPMC.

In a text message on Sunday, City Health Office (CHO) head Dr. Ashley Lopez said the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines might be delivered to the city as early as Tuesday.

He said that at least 16,677 health workers, 77,189 senior citizens, 432,549 indigent individuals and 5,258 security personnel have been identified in the priority list of the local government.

The local government targets to vaccinate around 1.2 million people to achieve herd immunity.

As of February 28, the Department of Health-Davao Region reported 72 new cases, bringing the total to 19,993, with 1,550 active, 17,601 recoveries and 842 deaths in the region.

Out of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, tallied 13,094 cases, with 819 active, 11,640 recoveries and 635 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 1,153 cases, Davao del Norte with 2,956, Davao del Sur with 1,336, Davao Occidental with 211 and Davao Oriental with 1,233.