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Disturbingly right

Why are we not surprised?

For one, President Duterte is chummy with the ruling clique in Beijing.

Secondly, let us not forget where the 2o19 coronavirus disease pandemic originated.

The apparent logic: If they started the problem – (un/wittingly) cultivated the virus — then they must have the best cure for it. Yeah, sure.

We can’t help but feel the same way as Sen. Panfilo Lacson does.

After telling ordinary Filipinos not to be choosy in getting their Covid-19 vaccines, the government should apply the same line in expediting the procurement of all qualified and available vaccines, Lacson said Wednesday.

He noted the availability of only Sinovac until June, as well as the replies of officials at Monday’s Senate hearing, indicate China-based Sinovac is the “chosen one.”

“Can somebody explain why preference is given to the second most expensive vaccine, has lower efficacy, a record of suspended clinical trials and has not even applied for EUA over other vaccines that cost much less, more efficacious and are about to be granted their Emergency Use Authorization?” he asked on Twitter.

“That said, the national government should expedite the procurement of all qualified and available vaccines. To borrow Secretary Harry Roque Jr.’s words, it should not be choosy in buying vaccines,” he added.

The former top law enforcer-turned lawmaker pointed out Sinovac has a five-month headway over other brands from February to June even without applying for an EUA – even as the Food and Drug Administration claimed this is due to the suspension of clinical trials in another jurisdiction.

Also, he questioned why Sinovac, a privately-owned Chinese company whose product’s efficacy is at 50 percent to 70 percentt, appears to have the edge even over China’s state-owned Sinopharm, whose vaccine has a 79-percent to 86-percent efficacy and is used in the United Arab Emirates.

Sinovac is also the second most expensive vaccine at P3,629 per two doses, he noted.

Worse, Lacson said, Sinovac has a record of suspended clinical trials, even as Food and Drug Agency Director General Eric Domingo said it has not even applied yet for an EUA over other vaccines that “are a lot cheaper, more efficacious and are already awaiting issuance of their EUAs from the FDA”.

On the other hand, the lawmaker noted that in Monday’s hearing, officials seemed prepared with justifications for favoring Sinovac including “taking different pathways,” “the Philippines may be at the tail-end of the supply chain,” and even saying they “will advise Sinovac to apply for EUA” after being asked why government had concluded a deal with it.

“Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.’s reply that they will advise Sinovac to apply for an EUA – after concluding a contract with it – only made it obvious that Sinovac is really the chosen one,” he said.

Earlier, the former National Police chief said tt’s not fair to say that Filipinos cannot choose their vaccines, at least from those made available by the government.

It’s bad enough that the national government virtually controls which brand/s of vaccines to procure.

“Pati ba naman ang pagpili kung ano ituturok sa braso ng mga Pilipino, hindi pa rin pwede mamili ang Pilipino?

Bakit ko naman pipiliin ang brand na 50 percent lang ang efficacy at wala man lang application for Emergency Use Authorization, against other brands with 79-percent and/or 95-percent efficacy and have pending EUA approval from the Food and Drug Administration?”

Conceding his sentiments would fallon deaf ears, the lawmaker said:

“We can only pray and hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health properly implement the vaccination plan they laid out during our Senate hearing Monday.

“While the plan may sound good, the difference is in the implementation – the reaction and responses to emergencies. Without proper execution, a plan no matter how good it is written and presented, won’t mean anything.”

We’re afraid he is right, disturbingly right.