Press Release
August 2, 2020


Amid China's assurance that it would give priority to the Philippines once it develops a vaccine for the Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, Senator Richard J. Gordon advised the public that it is better to personally take precautionary measures to avoid getting the disease rather than merely relying on a vaccine becoming available.

Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, pointed out that with the race to develop a vaccine still on-going, with efficacy tests still being conducted by various international companies, there is no assurance yet that those being developed would have no side-effects.

It's hard to say. Iba-iba ang sinasabi kung kelan magiging available. At this point in time, pag may nakita silang positive test baka gagawin nila 'yan pero di natin alam kung may side-effects 'yan. So ako, hindi umaasa diyan, ang inaasahan ko mag-ingat tayo na kapag hindi ka kailangang lumabas, wag ka nang lumabas," he said in an interview.

Gordon said it is still better for Filipinos to be precautious and take measures to avoid infection such as practicing social distancing and cough and colds etiquette, wearing masks, regularly washing hands properly, disinfecting hands with alcohol if one cannot wash them immediately and maintaining a strong immune system.

He added that the government should ensure that water is accessible for hand-washing, especially in areas where water supply is a problem and hygiene kits are distributed.

"Kailangan sa bawat Pilipino ang pag-iingat, dapat may face mask. I'm in favour of giving mask to everybody, libreng mask lalo na doon sa mga tabi-tabi ang bahay. 'Yung mga 'yun dapat bigyan at kung walang tubig dun, dapat bigyan sila ng tubig. Kami sa Red Cross, nagbibigay kami ng mga drum na tatapakan mo lalabas ang tubig. Pero we cannot produce so many of that pero sa mga palengke nilalagay namin, sa mga informal settlers para may panghugasan sila ng kamay palagi. Kailangang naghuhugas ka ng kamay o kaya may hygiene kit talagang binibigay na may kasamang mask at alcohol. Kami nagbibigay kami ng hygiene kit dahil importante 'yan," the PRC chairman and CEO said.

As the country where the coronavirus outbreak began, China was fast out of the gate in developing vaccines, with more than half a dozen candidates in clinical development. Last week, Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics published results1 from an early-stage clinical trial showing that its vaccine is safe and can trigger an immune response. CanSino's offering is made from a common-cold virus, tweaked to mimic the coronavirus. Sinopharm, a state-owned pharmaceutical company in Beijing, is developing two vaccines made using particles of the coronavirus that have been inactivated so that they can no longer cause disease. The company said in press releases in June that both vaccines had produced antibodies in all participants in preliminary phase I and II trials. And Beijing-based company Sinovac has announced similarly promising results for its own inactivated-virus vaccine.

This month, Sinovac launched a phase III trial of its vaccine in Brazil. Sinopharm will be testing its inactivated vaccines in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Only three other coronavirus vaccines have entered phase III trials: one produced by biotech company Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts; one by the University of Oxford and drug maker AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, UK; and one by biotech company BioNTech of Mainz, Germany, in collaboration with New York City-based drug firm Pfizer.

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