Opinion: Filipinos Aren’t Choosy—We Only Want The Best Vaccine For Us

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We’re the taxpayers, we paid for that, and we should have the right to only demand what’s best for us.

2020 was a dark year for us. Perhaps it’s a year that our generation wouldn’t dare talk about in the future after all the obstacles we confronted—from the unseen virus, countless levels of lockdown and quarantine, to even having a global economic recession. Basically, it was a nightmare.

However, as we enter a whole new year, 2021 seems to be promising. Well, better compared to last year so far, to say the least. The numbers of people being in contact with the havoc of COVID-19 are slowly decreasing, and most notably, scientists and a handful of pharmaceutical companies have already found a vaccine.

And that’s all thanks to several researchers who rose to the challenge of developing a vaccine that safeguards us from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Within less than a year after the onset of the pandemic, a total of seven vaccines are now available in limited quantities, in dozens of countries.

The challenge today is to make these vaccines available to people around the world. While other first-world countries have already poured billions of dollars into acquiring doses for their citizens, developing countries like the Philippines also need to receive the required protection. But how will such countries like ours be able to afford one? Answer: Loan.

Not Even The Second Best

To bring this pandemic to an end, a large share—if not the entirety—of the population needs to be immune to the virus. And the best way to achieve it is by being vaccinated. So, it’s only logical for any government to make sure to acquire the best vaccines to be given to its constituents.

However, it seems like what we wanted didn’t happen. On Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the Department of Health has already “secured 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac, and we will receive them as early as next month.”

Covid Vaccines Vaccine

If you’ll look at all the available vaccines in the market today, China’s Sinovac Biotech isn’t really the best option. Upon comparing it with other developers such as Pfizer and Moderna whose vaccine efficacy is at 95 percent, Sinovac’s efficacy only plays around 50-78 percent. And what’s worth noting is that the price per dose of Pfizer’s is cheaper than that of Sinovac.

We’re The Ones In Debt

Just to be clear, are we against China? Not really. What we’re only against is how our hard-earned money is being spent on an essential product—which we cannot choose—that will be injected into our immune system. So, we’re not being “choosy”—we only want the best option for us. We’re talking about our own health and money after all, and it is our top priority to look after it in this day and age.

Now, when Roque said although everyone has the right to health, the public cannot afford to be “picky” with the coronavirus vaccines. And that’s simply due to the large quantity of Filipinos to be vaccinated. “Wala pong pilian, wala kasing pilitan,” the Presidential spokesperson says. “Tama lang naman po ‘yan, walang pilian kasi hindi naman natin makokontrol talaga kung ano ang darating at libre po ito.”

While the vaccine is free, we, the people still paid for that through our taxes. And as the Philippines’ debt enter Php 9.6 trillion at the end of July as well as the Php 15 billion alleged corruption of Philhealth yet to be solved, the more we should rightfully demand how our taxes are spent.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter which country the vaccine was developed—whether in the United Kingdom, the United States, or China. What we’re looking for is the efficacy of the vaccine and that it underwent all the necessary legal clinical trials that vaccines need to undergo. It just so happens that Sinovac, a coronavirus vaccine with only 50-70 percent efficacy, is made in China. So, from a logical perspective, why would you invest billions of peso in something that’s not even the second-best?