Don’t fall prey to COVID vaccine vultures – Well being and Way of life

Four out of eleven Chinese vaccines are in advanced studies, but none have been approved for mass market distribution

By Rafael Castillo MD

In a recent Viber chat with former Health Minister Esperanza “Espie” Cabral, we both expressed concerns about illegal COVID-19 vaccines falling victim to the vulnerable public and believe the vaccine is already shown to be safe and effective.

The announcement of the availability of the vaccine is done in Viber chat groups, and the address given is a well-known medical clinic in Makati. It is claimed that the vaccine was given to more than 20,000 people. I am not sure if this claim is correct as the number of published vaccine candidates is much lower based on published reports, which raises serious doubts about the safety of the vaccines in clinical trials.

Currently, 11 Chinese vaccines have entered clinical trials. Four of these are in advanced phase 3 studies, but none have been approved for mass market distribution.

The two doses of the vaccine required cost 100,000 pesetas, which is a huge rip off considering it is said to be selling for $ 80 in China, or around 4,000 pesetas per dose. But what can you expect from vultures who have no qualms about stripping their prey to the last muscle?

The Chinese embassy in the Philippines denied that China had already sent vaccines to the Philippines for public use. Meanwhile, print and radio reports suggest that hundreds are lining up somewhere in eastern China to get vaccinated.

People polled by the media in China believe they are signing up for a safe and effective vaccine. However, one of the respondents wondered why she had to sign a waiver. Another didn’t seem to care because he needed the vaccine certificate to travel to Europe, where he has some business interests.

Report to the FDA

In a Viber message, the Director General of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Eric Domingo said he had sent a team to this medical residence to investigate, but his team was not allowed to enter the clinic. Of course they have their Bill of Rights. But if they’re using it to protect their illegal activities, something must be wrong with the law or with those who enforce the law.

Domingo assured me that he would not allow these Skalawags to go unpunished. The medical residence announced that the COVID vaccine will not be administered in their place. But why should FDA agents be prevented from peeking into their clinic when they have nothing to hide?

Those who may have been vaccinated at these clinics can report this shenanigan to the FDA. They will do their public duty in doing so so that others may not become victims anymore.

Pandemic exploitation is a major aggravating feature in our revised Penal Code, and this is a good opportunity to show everyone – Filipinos and foreigners alike – that our FDA and government are no pushover and that we are tough on criminals.

In eastern China, news sources report that residents between the ages of 18 and 59 with “urgent needs” could get their Sinovac Biotech vaccinations in designated clinics. They haven’t really defined what “urgent needs” mean, but they have reportedly given it to groups like medical professionals and those who need to travel.

The Chinese embassy issued a stern warning that no approved vaccines from China are available for early introduction. It advised the public to be wary of vaccines that are allegedly being sold here.

Long term side effects

We have already spoken at length about our grave objections to joining the COVID-19 vaccine truck. (Don’t Buy This China-Made COVID-19 Vaccine Just Yet – Not Yet; PDI, 7/28/20)

We know the government has high intentions to contain the ongoing tide of COVID-19 infection in the country by vaccinating the entire population. However, this may not be a good idea when robust data assures us that the risk of vaccination is definitely much lower than the proven benefits. The risk-benefit ratio is currently not yet clearly tilted in both directions. If you still have doubts, it is better not to get vaccinated.

While a vaccine can be said to be the silver bullet against the pandemic, it could have long-term adverse effects that may not show up soon after it’s administered. Because of this, it must undergo extensive clinical tests with long-term observation. One indication of the uncertainty about the desired effect of the vaccine is that scientists used to think one shot of the vaccine would be effective for lifelong immunity, but it is now recommended that two doses be given as one dose is not enough.

Who knows that they might later recommend that it be a flu vaccine that must be given annually or a pneumonia vaccine that is given every five years? That means more doses of the vaccine and possibly more side effects from the multiple doses.

Therefore, as I pointed out in my previous columns on the subject, I will only endorse and support a well-studied and clinically proven vaccine for COVID-19, not one that has corners cut off to expedite mass use.

Wait a little bit

It is known, although drug manufacturers deny, that the treatment is sometimes worse than the disease itself. It is easy to develop an effective vaccine against antibodies, but if it causes serious side effects, you have not signed up for it.

So we’re reiterating our advice to everyone: if a vaccine is coming soon, wait a little longer (I would say at least a year) before getting one. Let any vaccine issues be resolved before we commit to any and its long term effects.

Some would always argue that the risk of a serious, long-term side effect from any of the vaccines is very small, say only 0.1 percent, or one in 1,000. But do the math – if we vaccinate the entire Filipino population, it means that around 110,000 Filipinos are experiencing a serious, disabling, possibly permanent, side effect of the vaccine.

Compare that to the benefit of avoiding COVID-19 risks, the most serious of which is death. Even if we put the risk at 8,000 deaths per year, the balance still leans sharply towards the 105,000 that could cause serious side effects.

We worry so much about dying from COVID-19 and we should – this is why we should strictly follow best practice precautions. But even with a worst-case scenario of 8,000 deaths per year, this is still significantly less than the 160,000 to 180,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease or CVD (heart attacks, strokes and diseases of the arteries) per year. And yet, I have never seen panic and concern about the CVD pandemic as we have seen for COVID-19.

I have stated countless times in this column and webinars that COVID-19 is a serious problem, but the bigger problem is the distortion of perspective it has created.

One serious indication of this bias of perspective is that vultures fall victim to ripping off the public with an under-tested vaccine that can potentially cause more harm than good.

When people willingly and enthusiastically submit to scammers, it shows that our perspective has been tragically distorted.


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