Without Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, death toll ‘would be far greater today’ — Locsin

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. lauded China’s coronavirus vaccines, dismissing claims of its lower efficacy rate compared to Western-made vaccines and hailing the Asian economic powerhouse for making the vaccines available to developing countries like the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. addresses the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation on August 5, 2021. (DFA/Facebook)

China’s Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines were first in the Philippines in late February 2021 after officials botched a deal with United States’ pharmaceutical company Pfizer that would have brought its vaccines as early as mid-February this year.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is believed to be 95 percent effective against the coronavirus while Sinovac’s tread somewhere between 65 percent and 91 percent.

But during the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation led by Beijing, Locsin hailed China’s role in making its vaccines available to developing countries.

“The Chinese vaccines were the first on the scene; the most effective at the time; and the safest to take because they relied on tried and tested science and technology. Had many countries not made a grab for it, the death toll would be far greater today and the infection far, far more widespread,” he said.

“They were therefore safer to take; with fewer, smaller, less likely side effects or for some the cure could be worse than the disease,” Locsin added.

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During the forum, which focused on vaccine equality and fairness, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Beijing’s contribution of vaccines to the world will reach two billion doses by the end of the year. He also pledged $100 million to the vaccine-sharing facility COVAX, led by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Philippines procured 25 million doses of Sinovac with China donating one million doses.

Locsin called out countries discriminating tourists and travelers who were inoculated by the Chinese vaccine as the United States, Singapore, and some Middle Eastern and European countries refuse easy entry of those with Sinovac’s vaccines. Those inoculated with China’s vaccines have to be quarantined first after arriving in these countries.

“Otherwise, it is discrimination against developing countries who got what was first on offer and what they could afford; whose vaccination programs — the first available anywhere — were kick-started by, and relied on the compassion and generosity of China,” Locsin said.

And when others say that China’s vaccines are not as good, the Foreign Affairs chief countered with another question: “As compared to what?”

“To mentally dishonest apprehensions about its lower efficacy — as to compared to vaccines that did not yet exist? — I said: No country will make a vaccine that is less than optimal considering the speed at which it had to be invented and widely deployed within China itself before its hesitant deployment abroad,” he added.

Locsin believed that this relatively successful campaign against the virus puts China at the forefront of battling COVID.

“China’s role is imperative for a global post-pandemic recovery. Its continuing success undoubted in containing and beating down the epidemic — albeit again and again as the virus repeatedly raises its head in different if not deadlier more infectious mutations,” he said.

The DFA chief praised Beijing for being “first on the scene” in finding a cure and the best protocols of protection, as well as “the smartest preventive strategies for COVID containment and eradication, and the first effective vaccines.”

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