Pfizer mess: Duque stands tall

Locsin defends Pfizer as Duque invokes prudence in vaccine procurement. Has Duque started redeeming himself? He never had a breather from controversy since he was perceived to be siding Big Pharma on the Dengvaxia issue. (File photo taken last February 4, 2020 during s Senate hearing)

Thus far, DOH Secretary has been able to stand against an array of Pfizer pressure salesmen within our government bureaucracy. He has stood pat on the proper procedures for accepting a vaccine and signing a purchase contract. But the government salesmen of Pfizer didn’t want any of that. “What Pfizer wants, Pfizer should get pronto” seems to be the dictum they followed. And they have moved all their assets in media for a full-court publicity press to malign the government and Duque.

 Unfortunately for them, Duque and the government of President Duterte have again been vindicated by the latest reports on the various problems with the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. From the economic-financial blog Zero Hedge now comes the report, “’CDC Issues New Guidelines, Launches Probe After 1000s Negatively-Affected Following Covid-19 Vaccination’… Thousands of people have been unable to work or perform daily activities… after getting the new Covid-19 vaccine…”

Serious incidents

The culprit in the problematic vaccinations? – the Pfizer mRNA vaccine., And there are a number of serious cases of allergic reactions that deserves particular review. I republish below a portion of my previous article on this Pfizer vaccine problem:

 “One incident of allergic reaction is featured in the WION News through a video that showed the moment when:

“… (the) head nurse at a hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., caused a brief scare on Thursday when she fainted shortly after receiving the Pfizer-Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine… Nurse manager Tiffany Dover had been giving a press briefing from CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, about her team being among the first to be given the COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Dover was happily answering questions when she suddenly started trailing off. ‘All of my staff, you know, we are excited to get the vaccine. We are in the COVID unit, so therefore, you know, my team will be getting first chances to get the vaccine… And I know that it’s really … Sorry, I’m feeling really dizzy…”

 Another report from the December 16, 2020 edition of USA Today headlines, “Covid-19 vaccine trials report cases of brief facial paralysis. That’s not as scary as it sounds.” The facial paralysis is Bell’s Palsy. The reporter, Adrianna Rodriguez, may be braver than me but I do find that “facial paralysis” to be scary even if temporary as reported in the four cases of the trial volunteers.

A case in Alaska caused another scare as the health care worker in the trial suffered an anaphylactic shock despite not having a history of allergies and never having experienced anaphylaxis. The report added that the reaction was similar to those suffered by multiple healthcare workers in the UK, where the Pfizer BioNTech lab was approved.

Pfizer overindulged, Duque firm

 In an interview on ANC with that usually pea-brained news anchor, Sec. Duque explained the care and concern that a health authority tasked with approving and contracting a new vaccine should pay attention to.

 Following are the exact words of Secretary Duque:

 “Let me tell you, I have the chronology of events so that this is all documented and there’s no such thing that I did not act quick enough the thing is you go through a process and when you go through a process you cannot just be hurrying up things just like that you have to be prudent and cautious because you are talking about a brand new and ‘novel’ vaccine … because of the technology that it is using…

 “… the mRNA platform is also new that have not been tried or tested… so as a medical professional, as a physician, my overriding principle in my practice of medicine is always to err on the side of caution… so I needed to make sure that the concerned offices would clear the CDA document that was only submitted on August 11…

 “August 7 nagkaroon kami ng miting (with) Pfizer with the … officer to discuss the new mRNA technology … and that’s where I asked a lot of questions such as) meron na bang experience ang ibang bansa and he said yes para sa HIV AIDS … and that’s it, there has been no experience, neither has DOH any experience despite the long years of its immunization program…

 “On Sept 4, Pfizer met again with key DOH officers kasama ang DOST and Exec Sec. Medialdea to provide ‘updates on their vaccine development…. Sinabi nila, there are two candidate vaccines … after Phase I and Phase II tayo …. I also would like to tell you that Pfizer does not want to conduct a clinical trial Phase 3 in the Philippines…I think for the record that is very important… we would have preferred you and I to have a clinical trial Phase 3 in the Philippines just to clear for ethnic diversity (since) not all places will respond (similarly)when it comes to potential side effects…”

The compliant and safe Chinese vaccines

Why are the Pfizer pushers – including Ambassador Babes Romualdez, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, media outlets Rappler, ABS CBN, Inquirer et al, and their pundits like Solita Monsod and Dick Pascual –

barking so loud and hard for Pfizer when Pfizer refuses to comply with the basic safety and efficacy requirements of Philippines food and drug rules, as well as universal safety protocols. It reveals unflattering issues about them.

 The Chinese vaccine producers have been modest about their claims but the safety record of their vaccines that have been used on over a million front-liners, test volunteers, high government officials of many countries. Ordinary early users have shown an exemplary safety record of at least 86% to 90% effectiveness as attested bye non-Chinese sources, such as, UAE and Indonesia. The Chinese pharma have also been very careful not to make exaggerated claims.

Prime Minister HH Sheikh Mohammed of the United Arab Emirates received the Chinese vaccine from Sinopharm on Nov. 5, 2020 as it was nearing its Phase III trials. Several ministers of the UAE also took the shots, such as, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Bahrain’s crown prince. Indonesia’s President Jokowi Widodo will take the first vaccine shot that will be administered by Sinovac, the Indonesian joint venture partner.

Unlike the US. pharma’s mRNA technological platform that is being tried for the first time, China’s COVID 19 vaccine manufacturers are using the “classical” method of using the inactivated or attenuated virus, a well-known technology tried and tested over decades with minimal probable side effects. And with over a million already having used vaccines made from this classical platform, there has been no report of serious side effects, so unlike those using the mRNA method.

The applications of Sinovac, which is already the slated supplier of 25-million doses for the Philippines’ first batch, and Clover, a second Chinese vaccine supplier have already been approved for the conduct of Phase 3 trials in the Philippines after passing through the Philippine’s vaccine board comprised of DOST and FDA experts.  However, these compliant companies are now being subjected to unjust and oppressive media black propaganda by Rappler and discredited sources, such as, the disgraced Dr. Leachon.

Pfizer’s “cold case” is hot

 Pfizer vaccine pushers may also be missing a major problem with their vaccine, a problem that would impact significantly on the cost of importing and distributing the vaccine to and around the Philippines from the US. This problem is the Antarctic coldness required to preserve it during transportation and storage, which is minus 70 degrees Centigrade. US pharma companies have had to scramble for “dry ice” machines that they can get only from China.

 Moderna, the other mRNA vaccine, requires cold storage temperature of minus 20 degrees Centigrade.  This is less daunting and may not require special arrangements in some circumstances. However, such facilities are certainly unavailable or in insufficient numbers in provincial cities. Moderna’s vaccine can stay efficacious in 2 to 8 degrees Centigrade for only 30 days. Moreover, both vaccines require additional costs for transport and storage, but the Pfizer pushers don’t seem to factor this in. Is it an issue too “hot” for them to handle and answer?

 Chinese vaccines can be stored and shipped at 2 to 8 degrees Centigrade; this is why it is the most popular COVID 19 vaccine outside of the Western countries. In the Middle East and Asia, the Chinese vaccines are the vaccines of choice. And even the Western countries are looking to augment their supplies with the Chinese vaccines . This was reported by Grady McGrego in the Fortune magazine narrative “How China’s Covid-19 vaccine could fill the gaps left by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca.”

 At the same time, the West is looking to possibly supplement its vaccine supply with those of China is because companies like Pfizer are facing production constraints. As reported by Time, Pfizer has had to down size its 2020 production target from 100 million to 50 million “after the drug maker ran into difficulties securing all the materials it needs to produce the shots.” The materials mentioned include cold storage facilities.

Floating half-truths

Some local report misleading headlined a DOST comment stating that “Sinovac vaccine’s 50% efficacy is acceptable – DOST” is a mere reiteration of the basic WHO threshold for acceptability of any vaccine set at 50% efficacy.

However, Senator Franklin Drilon went overboard in a Rappler report by cautioning government to rethink buying Sinovac because he misunderstood the headline.

A late breaker however qualifies that “Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine shows 91.25% efficacy in Turkey trials” as reported by Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on December 24, 2020 and reported in the international press, adding that “… we were sure of the effect of the vaccine. We are now confident that the vaccine is effective and safe for Turkish people…”

That should put the numbers in their proper perspective.

Drilon will say anything to disparage China. Here tricky Frank dishes out a half-truth.

(Herman Tiu Laurel is an author, writer and founder of the Phil-BRICS Strategic Studies think tank. Join his: “Power Thinks” with Ka Mentong Laurel and guests – Every Wednesday 6pm Live on Global Talk News Radio [GTNR] on Facebook and Talk News TV on YouTube; and Every Sunday 8 to 10am on RP1 738 on your AM radio dial.

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