A former medical adviser to the government’s National Task Force Against COVID-19 has debunked allegations he is peddling false information about vaccines and the current state of the country’s vaccination program during last Friday’s Senate hearing.
Dr. Anthony C. Leachon on Monday bewailed the allegations hurled against him by the Department of Health (DOH) because he said he merely urged the government to procure vaccines with higher efficacy rate amidst the threat of the Delta coronavirus variant.
During the last Senate Blue Ribbon meeting into the irregularities in the use of COVID-19 pandemic response funds, Leachon stressed it was not his intention to question the general efficacy of the vaccines against the virus, including Sinovac, which makes up 54% of all vaccines procured by the government.
But with the advent of the more lethal Delta variant, he insisted the government must be forward-looking to find ways to secure more vaccines, which have demonstrated efficacy against the Delta variant based on regulatory documents, published data, and results of clinical trials.
Leachon noted that having a multi-vaccine portfolio mix, composed of the more efficacious vaccines against Delta, is crucial for a country such as the Philippines, which does not have the capacity to produce its own vaccine.
Being dependent on vaccine supplies from other countries, he said the government must be quick to get our country in the priority list of vaccine makers.
He said the unabated rise in the number of cases is an indication that the current plan of action of the DOH/NTF is not working as planned.
As an “epic failure,” he said it time to consider other courses of action and perhaps, learn from the experience of other countries who have dramatically reduced their COVID-19 cases such as India, the source of the dreaded Delta variant.
The health reform advocate lamented that the best way “to cover up for ineptitude, failure of leadership, and the COA-DOH P67-billion fund deficiency” is apparently “to malign those who offer the government sound proposals to curb record-breaking COVID cases.”
“This is truly unfortunate because the presentation I made in front of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee were well-researched recommendations partly based on statements from members of the country’s Vaccine Expert Panel,” Leachon added.
He slammed the DOH and NTF for “concocting statements” to muddle the issue and deflect the matter to hide the truths unveiled during the Senate hearings.
He said the Delta variant is known to be more contagious and transmissible than the other strains and has caused the resurgence of infections in many countries, including the Philippines.
NTF Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. challenged Leachon to clarify his statement on COVID-19 vaccines in the country, saying vaccines the country procured have the recommendation of the Vaccine Expert Panel.
“While different vaccine types have different efficacy rates against the Delta variant, all of them including Sinovac are working and effective based on real world data,” Galvez added.