The Department of Health (DOH) reiterated that vaccines are effective against COVID-19 following a doctor’s claim that these vaccines are “unsafe” and “more dangerous” than the virus itself.
On Thursday, Aug. 12, the DOH released a statement condemning health professionals who have been spreading misinformation about life-saving interventions like the COVID-19 vaccines.
It said those who are propagating false information about the vaccine are “especially irresponsible” given that the country is facing a threat from the more infectious Delta variant, which reportedly is the possible driver of the spike of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.
“There is a growing number of real-world evidence globally, which have consistently shown the COVID-19 vaccines have led to significant reductions in hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated individuals.
“Moreover, despite increases in COVID-19 cases in these countries, the same rate of increase is NOT seen in hospitalization and deaths,” the statement read.
The DOH’s statement came after an interview of Dr. Romeo Quijano, a retired professor from the University of the Philippines Manila, on DZRH’s Dos Por Dos circulated on social media, where he claimed the COVID-19 vaccines are “unsafe” and “more dangerous” than the virus itself.
“It is likewise irresponsible for media outlets to allow such professionals to use their platforms to spread baseless information that stand to harm Filipinos, especially those who are in the process of deciding to get vaccinated,” the DOH said.
Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the DOH-Technical Advisory Group, said in a Facebook post that it is “unfortunate” that there are some medical professionals who subscribe to conspiracy theories and “engage in sensationalist propaganda without citing proper evidence.”
“Their credentials as doctors and their willingness to unwittingly drag their institutions into the fray is confusing the public and affecting vaccine confidence. This will ultimately cost lives and prolong the pandemic,” he wrote.
Salvana also noted that 4.5 billion doses of COVID-19 worldwide have been given and severe side effects are extremely rare and only a handful of adverse reactions are being investigated as having possibly contributed to the death of patients.
In contrast, he said, 205 million people have been infected by COVID-19 and 4.3 million people have died.
Salvana also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, as “vaccination is the only acceptable solution to this pandemic. Vaccines are a public good that have already saved millions of lives.”
The Philippines has inoculated 26 million individuals, 12 million of whom have already been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, record numbers of COVID-19 cases have been tallied in the country (with 12,439 new cases as of this writing—the country's highest single-day tally since April 10), and Metro Manila, which is currently under a two-week enhanced community quarantine, sees hospitals in full capacity once again.
Banner and thumbnail photos by Russell Palma/The Philippine STAR