The month of March has marked the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. We have all experienced uncertainties, fears and griefs. According to the latest survey of Pulse Asia, 94% out of 2,400 Filipinos are afraid of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus. What is hopeful about our present situation is that, finally, eleven COVID-19 are available vaccines worldwide. These vaccines are namely Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinovac CoronaVac, Gamaleya Sputnik V, Bharat BioTech (“Covaxin”), Sinopharm, Moderna, Novavax, Arcturus, Janssen and Clover.
The COVID-19 Vaccines in the Philippines
Among these eleven vaccines, four vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drugs Association (FDA). These are Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinovac CoronaVac and Gamaleya Sputnik V. The distributed vaccines are Sinovac CoronaVac and AstraZeneca. Meanwhile, Pfizer BioNTech and Gamaleya Sputnik V are expected to arrive this April.
The eleven COVID-19 vaccines are classified into four categories: nucleic acid vaccines, viral vector vaccines, protein sub-unit vaccines and whole virus vaccines. Each of the COVID-19 vaccines can produce body immunity through the stimulation process of an immune response to an antigen. This immune response often occurs at the spike protein on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.
Then, there is Ivermectin. It is not a vaccine. Ivermectin is a drug commonly used to deworm large animals like horses and cows. So, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO) have warned against the use of Ivermectin for treatment and prevention of COVID-19 in humans. The FDA earlier allowed a Compassionate Special Permit or emergency use authorization. However, no doctors have sent application forms to use Ivermectin as of now. This shows that this pandemic increased our will to innovate, even incorporating a deworming drug into the whole dynamic.
Most of the available COVID-19 vaccines today are created by new technology. Moreover, they were made only within the span of one year. Each vaccine varies in effectiveness and efficacy. For instance, the nucleic acid vaccine and its unique technology to create antibodies against COVID-19 and other diseases. While the other types of vaccines typically use a weakened virus to cause an immune response from our bodies, the nucleic acid vaccine, such as Moderna, Arcturus and Pfizer-BioNTech, uses a molecule containing the genetic material from the COVID-19 virus. The Pfizer-BioNTech has 95% efficacy. Both Moderna and Arcturus have 90% efficacy.
The viral vector vaccines are Janssen, Oxford AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Sputnik V vaccines. They use the adenovirus, which causes common cold. The adenovirus transmits the genetic material that triggers the immune response of the human body. Adenovirus only serves as a carrier of the genetic material, hence the name “viral vector vaccine”. It does not cause COVID-19 or other diseases.
The protein sub-unit vaccine, like Novavax and Clover Biopharmaceuticals, uses only a sub-unit of the COVID-19 virus to trigger immune response. This synthesized COVID-19 sub-unit is weakened, small and dormant. Therefore, it cannot cause unnecessary and harmful effects on the human body. Novavax, the most famous protein sub-unit vaccine, has 89.3% efficacy against the virus.
The whole virus vaccine uses inactivated or dead COVID-19 virus to activate the immune response of the human body. The Sinopharm, Covaxin and Sinovac are examples of whole virus vaccines. This vaccine is created based on the old method of most vaccines wherein the dormant whole virus is used to create antibodies to fight specific diseases. The Sinovac has 60% efficacy. The pending vaccines Sinopharm and Covaxin have 78% and 81% efficacy, respectively.
Filipinos’ Distrust on COVID-19 Vaccination
The news authorities from the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom have earlier delivered reported that people are dying from blood clot, caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the Wire Science News recently clarified that the blood clot is caused by other factors like old age and pre-existing disease. Moderna also receives bad reports despite its 90% efficacy. With these increasing horror stories, we need to assess and verify by asking the right persons like professional doctors and nurses. Let us be reminded that this could possibly be the case of social distrust caused by economic manipulation and the persisting distrust of the Filipinos on its government. There is a lingering doubt in the competence and intelligence of leaders and scientists all over the world. Furthermore, the scarcity of food, jobs and other basic necessities have pushed more individuals to selfishly act on “survival mode.” This chaotic perspective can be easily overcome. We can ask curious questions like, “How effective is the vaccine to the people closest to me?”
What is evident here is that the pandemic’s uncertainties cause many Filipinos to become more pessimistic. So, it is wise to find support group or reliable companies that focus on helping the public’s needs. One company that helps in public health needs is the MYPOCKETDOCTOR. The general practitioners, specialists, dentist and clinical psychologist of MYPOCKETDOCTOR are available 24/7/365 to offer Telehealth services. Because, while we struggle with anxieties and social distrust, it is understandable why we doubt leaders and scientists who promote the vaccine for the original COVID-19 virus. The increasing cases today are not caused by the original virus, but by the mutated COVID-19 virus. No wonder that the Pulse Asia Survey says that 6 out of 10 Filipinos do not want to get vaccinated.
The fact remains that the fear of the vaccination spells a vast difference. Many experts explain that what matters is not the type or brand of the COVID-19 vaccines but the decision to get vaccinated. In times of paralyzing fear, let us not forget that the human history is marked with the Black Death, Cholera and Spanish Flu epidemic. Regardless of how complicated the virus could mutate, what cannot be killed is our human spirit, which keeps on hoping to solve any life challenges.
1) Publication in Journals for Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 CT Results and Phase III Interim Results
2) FDA Philippines, EUA Approval
3) Pulse Asia Survey, February 2021.
4) CNN News, March 2021 (www.cnn.ph)
5) Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 2021 (www.inquirer.net)
6) The Wire Science News, March 2021 (www.science.thewire.in)
7) World Health Organization Publications, February-March 2021 (www.who.int)