AstraZeneca applies for COVID-19 vaccine emergency use in Philippines
This file photo shows the COVID-19 candidate vaccine developed by the British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca
AFP/Justin Tallis

AstraZeneca applies for COVID-19 vaccine emergency use in Philippines

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 6, 2021 - 4:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has applied for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines, local regulators said Wednesday.

The development brings the number of vaccine manufacturers seeking regulators' approval to two, following Pfizer, which submitted theirs in late December.

Director General Eric Domingo of the Food and Drug Administration told Philstar.com in an exchange that the agency would take between three to four weeks to approve the EUA, "depending on the completeness of their submission."

Securing FDA's nod would not automatically mean that doses of the vaccine would be immediately available to the country, as it still has to secure a deal for doses with the drugmakers. 

Full clinical trials abroad have shown that AstraZeneca's jabs have a 70% efficacy rate on average. 

At P610 in two doses, it is the second cheapest vaccine among those being eyed for purchase in the administration's bid to secure jabs that have stirred concerns that it was late into the global race.

Compared with Pfizer, it also only needs to be stored at normal fridge temperatures at around two to eight degrees Celsius.

The United Kingdom days ago became the first country to vaccinate its citizens with the AstraZeneca vaccine, after approving its EUA.

In late November, the Philippines secured 2.6 million of its doses as private firms chip in P600 million as a donation to the government.

This makes it the only deal so far sure for the country that is seen to arrive by the second quarter of 2021.

It was also only in November that President Rodrigo Duterte allowed for making advanced payments to vaccine makers, and in the following month, issued an executive order giving the FDA the authority to grant EUAs.

Quezon City, the largest and most populous in the Philippines, also recently announced that it signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for 750,000 doses.

The Duterte administration late last year said it aims to inoculate 60 to 70 million Filipinos in the next three to five years, transcending beyond its term, which ends in 2022.

But earlier today, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said government is now looking to vaccinate the same number of the population in this year alone, despite no procurement deals inked yet.

Globally, there are now 12.1 billion doses of possible vaccines secured by countries according to an international tracker.

The Philippines' neighbor Indonesia is so far sure of 357 million doses, aiming to inoculate first its working population in the country which has the highest coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia. 

Manila with its over 480,000 COVID-19 cases remains with the second highest in the region.  — with reports from Xave Gregorio

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 6, 2021 - 3:37pm

Follow this page for updates on the issues surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination program in the Philippines. Main photo from AFP/Yaksin Akgul.

January 6, 2021 - 3:37pm

British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca has applied for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines.

Philippine Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo confirms this in an interview with CNN Philippines.

AstraZeneca, along with its partner Oxford University in England, has so far made 50 million doses of its vaccine. In November, the British laboratory announced that its vaccine was on average 70% effective.

January 5, 2021 - 8:32am

The Armed Forces of the Philippines terminates its investigation into the unregulated Sinopharm vaccination of President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail following the chief executive's order not to cooperate with the probe.

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