MANILA, Philippines–If Filipinos had a choice, most would prefer to be injected with vaccines made in the West even as majority worried the development of these was rushed.
Results of a survey by the Asean+3 Macroeconomic and Research Office (Amro) staff in December 2020 showed that respondents in the Philippines were “the most particular” about vaccine brands, according to Amro in a report on Wednesday (March 17).
The survey showed that 94 percent of Filipino respondents selected Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford University, or US-made vaccines like Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Novavax, Amro said.
The survey form’s choices included Russia’s Gamaleya-Sputnik-V, as well as those made by China’s CanSino Biologics, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
One-fourth of all respondents across Asean’s 10 member countries plus China, Japan and South Korea checked the box that says they’re not choosy about vaccines.
It was only in China where most respondents expressed preference for locally made vaccines.
The Philippines was also among countries where many respondents were worried about the speedy development of coronavirus vaccines, as it took years to come out with effective ones against other diseases in the past.
“More than 75 percent of all residents in Malaysia and the Philippines held this view, while 47 percent of Indonesia residents were also similarly disposed,” said Amro.
“Separately, about 57 percent of Singapore residents were skeptical because of the speed with which the vaccines were developed compared to 50 percent of citizens,” Amro said.
“In contrast, only a third of respondents in Thailand and 10 percent of those residing in Laos felt the same way,” the Amro report said.
“In these two countries, the largest percentage of respondents who were less than fully committed to taking the vaccine considered themselves in the low-risk group—38 percent in Thailand, and 60 percent in Laos—possibly because of the low levels of infections in either country at the time of the survey,” Amro added.
In terms of willingness to be injected with the vaccine, majority of respondents, or up to 70 to 80 percent, said they would agree to get the vaccine.
Amro said “20-25 percent of surveyed residents in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines said that they would take the vaccine if they absolutely had to.”
When asked about the timing for vaccination, 46.3 percent of Filipino respondents said they would “wait at least a few months to allow for more tests to be run and evidence to be collected.”
At least 35.8 percent of those surveyed in the Philippines wanted to “wait to see if there are significant long-term side-effects.” Some 17.9 percent said they would get injected as soon as the vaccines were available.
Among Filipino respondents who said they won’t get injected, at least 80 percent were distrustful because “the development and approval was too rushed.” At least 13.3 percent believed “COVID-19 is a hoax.” Some 6.7 percent said they didn’t need vaccines because they were in the low-risk group.
The latest data collected by Amro as of March 14 showed the Philippines had confirmed vaccine contracts for doses which can cover 44.3 percent of the population.
In comparison, doses secured by South Korea could be sufficient for 127.5 percent of its population; Japan, 124.4 percent; Hong Kong, 99.9 percent; Malaysia, 80.6 percent; Indonesia, 47.7 percent and Thailand 45.4 percent.
Vietnam and China lagged behind with 41.5 percent and only 3.6 percent of their populations covered by vaccine supplies they currently have.
Amro noted that the Philippines had vaccinated only 0.1 percent of its target population to date, with 60 percent targeted for injection by yearend in order to achieve the aspired population coverage by early 2022.
In Asean+3, only Brunei, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam had fewer vaccinations than the Philippines as of March 14, Amro data showed.
The Philippines wanted to inject 100 percent of its adult population or 70 million Filipinos within 2021 by purchasing vaccine doses for 92 million individuals, taking into consideration possible delivery delays and slippages, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had said.
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