Philippines to allow emergency use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ‘within a week’

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Philippines to allow emergency use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine âwithin a weekâ
Illustration file photo taken on Nov. 23, 2020 showing a bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" and a syringe next to the Pfizer and BioNtech logos. Mexico could receive the first vaccines against COVID-19 developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in December if the processes for their approval are accomplished in the estimated time, announced on November 24, 2020 Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard.
AFP / Joel Saget

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be issuing an emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine of United States drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE “within a week,” the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

“We are making this as quick as possible. And I’m quite sure that we’ll be out with the authorization within a week,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo told ANC’s “Matters of Fact.”

An emergency use approval in the Philippines would not necessarily mean that the vaccine would be available for use as the country has yet to strike a supply deal with Pfizer for doses of its jab.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has been criticized for allegedly botching a supply deal with Pfizer — an accusation which he has denied.

The vaccines are also required to be kept in ultra-low temperature freezers around minus 70 degrees Celsius, an infrastructure which the country does not have yet.

Pfizer, whose vaccine with BioNTech has been granted by the World Health Organization an emergency validation, submitted an application for emergency use authorization in the Philippines on December 23.

Several countries, including the US, the United Kingdom and Singapore, have already issued emergency use authorizations for the shot and have begun vaccinating their citizens for the coronavirus.

Results from a late-stage vaccine trial showed that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective after two shots and had no serious side effects.

AstraZeneca readies to apply for emergency use

Domingo also said that British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca plc., whose coronavirus vaccine has been found to be 70% effective on average after two shots, is readying to apply for emergency use authorization in the Philippines.

“I believe they would be submitting very soon. We’re anticipating that one,” he said.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been approved for emergency use in the UK and India.

The British-Swedish firm’s shot is cheaper than the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and only needs to be stored at normal fridge temperatures at around two to eight degrees Celsius.

The national government’s first, and so far only, supply deal for a vaccine is between AstraZeneca and some 30 private firms for 2.6 million doses of its jab. It eyes to close a deal with AstraZeneca for 30 million more doses of its inoculation.

Quezon City’s local government, meanwhile, has signed an agreement between AstraZeneca’s local arm and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 for doses of the drugmaker’s vaccine.

The Quezon City government earlier said it was finalizing its talks with a pharmaceutical firm for the initial purchase of 750,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. It allocated an initial P1 billion in its 2021 budget to procure vaccines and supplies needed for mass immunization.

Other vaccine makers

Domingo also said that China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology have also reached out to the FDA to inquire about the requirements for emergency use authorization.

The Philippines aims to buy 25 million doses of Sinovac’s shot, which has been clouded with issues on transparency with its data. Several countries running trials of the vaccine have also been reporting different efficacy rates, ranging from 50% to 91.25%.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez has said that US vaccine developer Novavax Inc. has committed to providing the country with 30 million doses of its coronavirus shot, which is still in late-stage clinical trials.

The country is also eyeing to secure around four to 25 million doses of vaccines from US biotech companies Moderna Inc. and Arcturus Therapeutics Inc.

The country, which has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in the Southeast Asian region following Indonesia, is targeting to vaccinate 24 million people against the virus that causes COVID-19 by next year

2019 N-COV



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