The Department of Health has announced eleven new local cases of the Delta variant here in the Philippines. This is particularly concerning because the variant has ravaged even countries which are more affluent and more prepared than the Philippines: countries that have been great at the COVID elimination strategy have been afflicted by it (Taiwan, Australia and Vietnam).

The central issue here in the Philippines is that two of the foundations of an effective pandemic response are sorely lacking. …

As of today, July 9, 2021, the Philippines has acquired a total of 20,607,570 vaccine doses. 11,000,000 doses were from Sinovac, which represents 96% of all the procured vaccines. It is 58.2% of all vaccines available in the Philippines.

The Philippines were in talks to procure 10M doses of Pfizer during the second half of last year, but that wasn’t realized because of incompetent officials. Despite issues with respect to data and price, Sinovac had been procured by the government. Issues were raised with respect to its lower efficacy, which was close to the WHO cutoff. Further, there were no…

Weeks ago, I’ve already been writing about the untenability of the pursuit of herd immunity here in the Philippines.

I wrote this almost a month ago.

This was primarily because of the lower efficacy of the vaccines that we’re hinging our response on: Sinovac, which represents 70% of the total vaccine supply of the Philippines, has a 50.7% efficacy based on Phase III trial results. Although real-world data have been more positive, especially in populations where more than 90% have been immunized, the data in Chile and Uruguay have revealed a real-world effectiveness against symptomatic infection at 65 and 57 percent, respectively. The studies, however, have provided…

With the arrival of the vaccine shipment today, the Philippines now has a total of 9,329,050 vaccine doses. @HerdImmunityPH (on Twitter) posted an infographic regarding the vaccine breakdown by brand:

It is undeniable that the Philippines is currently hinging its response primarily on Sinovac, with almost 70% of the available vaccines provided by the Chinese brand. Over a real-world effectiveness study done in Chile, Sinovac’s Coronavac had an efficacy of 65% against symptomatic disease, 87% against hospitalizations, and 86% against death. This was a study done over 10.2 million people, and the results have been quite promising.

The lessons of Chile’s experience should be instructive to the Philippines. Due to prior connections with China, Chile’s medical officials met with Sinovac as early as February 2020 and were among the earliest countries to procure vaccines from them.

As of March 1, it had procured 10 million doses of Sinovac, and 700,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. It has administered 6 million vaccine doses, most of it Sinovac. As a country, it has less vaccine hesitancy than ours (60% of its people were amenable to vaccination). 6 million doses correspond to more than 33% of the total population of…

People I’ve known who are generally familiar with the science of vaccination are generally of two minds regarding Sinovac:

  1. Take the vaccine because it’s the only available one; or,
  2. Wait a little more because we don’t have definitive proof of Sinovac’s efficacy.

Honestly, I believe both perspectives have merit. People constantly exposed to the virus have to deal with contracting COVID-19, and the idea that 50% is always better than zero makes perfect sense. Other people often compare flu vaccines as barely effective, yet people still take them yearly. However, I think this comparison is fallacious.

First, influenza is…

I was happy that the FDA focused on the scientific evidence and nothing else when it submitted its recommendations to the government. In contrast to vaccines such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca, the Phase III trial results of Sinovac have not yet been released, although data might have been made available to lead the FDA to decide that the vaccine was all right for the healthy population aged 18–59, but not for healthcare workers in contact with COVID-19 patients, seniors, or people with comorbidities.

While AstraZeneca had its dosing issues, Sinovac, on the other hand was noted to have two different…

What I love about the people closest to me is that they call me out on my bullshit. Sometimes I spout stuff that are grossly mistaken, and I like that they remind me of my mistakes. More importantly, they force me to sharpen my arguments and establish them in fact, which improves my thinking skills.

My position is that the Philippine government has been generally incompetent toward the handling of the COVID-19 crisis. I do understand that the humanistic argument bears relevance and recognize that I’m sometimes too distant and cold-hearted with my propositions. …

Norman Vincent Peale was among the fathers of self-help writing. He focused on “positive thinking,” now more popularly known as “the law of attraction.” Over the past decade, however, a more critical exegesis on his writing was done by psychologists: no amount of positivity could cure mental illness. Positive thinking helps healthy people with coping, but it is not the panacea to one’s problems. It is most definitely not the cure for mental illness.

I’ve read The Power of Positive Thinking more than once, and it has honestly work as literary pep. Many of the ideas that the book espoused…

This is taken from Bloomberg.

Last September, Reuters published a report regarding Duterte’s disapproval of reserving vaccines from “Western countries.” He hesitated from choosing to reserve doses of the vaccine, instead opting for China because “[t]he one good thing about China is that you do not have to beg, you do not have to plead … one thing wrong about the Western countries, it’s all profit, profit, profit.”

Vaccine production needs money, because experimentation and research need money. While it is also about profit, I don’t think these countries can be blamed for making sure, because that is the nature of business. Many other countries…

Michael David Sy

Medical doctor, reader, and dabbler in Philippine history

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