Duterte defends Sinovac anew over Norwegians’ death reportedly after Pfizer vaccination

 By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Presidential Communications

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday took a swipe at senators who favored United States pharmaceutical firm Pfizer after deaths of senior citizens from Norway reportedly due to vaccine shots.

“Ang Pfizer ng mga senador...25 died after receiving their vaccines. There you are, mamili kayo,” said Duterte during his weekly national address on Monday.

Duterte claimed that vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac were used in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), adding there are no reported mortalities after being inoculated with Chinese vaccines.

“Almost everybody na kilala ko are scrambling to buy itong Pfizer. To me it is a good one. If you want to follow the experience of Norway, go ahead, nobody will stop you,” Duterte said.

Last week, Duterte defended the government’s preference on Chinese coronavirus vaccines, claiming they are as good as the vaccines made from western firms.

However, some studies revealed that Sinovac’s rate of efficacy is only at around 50 percent.

Senators recently chided Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s remarks of Filipinos must not be “choosy” for the vaccine brands they want to inoculate with.

Several local governments inked deal with Britain’s pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. But Duterte said the executive government is not preventing anyone from procuring own vaccines.

“We never prohibited anybody from buying from government. We are not selling. We are buying for the people,” said Duterte.

The Food and Drug Administration earlier said the emergency use authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with an efficacy of 95 percent, is still intact despite reported deaths from Norway. However, the FDA said the company must submit a report to the agency.

Moreover, Pfizer-BioNTech said in a statement that it is now working with Norwegian health officials to gather more data regarding the incident.

“Pfizer and BioNTech are aware of the reported deaths following administration of BNT162b2. We are working with the Norewegian Medicines Agency (NOMA) to gather all the relevant information,” read the statement.

“Norwegian authorities have prioritised the immunisation of resident in nursing homes, most of whom are very elderly with underlying medical conditions and some which are terminally ill,” it added. “NOMA confirmed the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations.”

Pfizer-BioNTech said the reported mortalities will undergo evaluation to determine if the deaths were attributed from the vaccine shot.

Norway has now changed its use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to consider excluding the terminally ill.