Philippines approves Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use

Xave Gregorio ( - January 14, 2021 - 11:52am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:47 p.m.) — The Philippines approved Thursday the coronavirus vaccine of Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE for emergency use, making it the first COVID-19 jab to get the authorization needed for it to be rolled out by the government in its vaccination program.

The country's Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the shot after finding that the benefit of using the vaccine, which has a 95% efficacy rate, to prevent COVID-19 infections outweighs known and potential risks.

The authorization clears the vaccine for use in people aged 16 and above. It can only be administered by health professionals who are trained to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.

The EUA provides that Pfizer's Philippine unit would supply the vaccine to "emergency response stakeholders," including the Department of Health (DOH), the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) and whoever the two agencies authorize to procure coronavirus shots.

Among those who the DOH and the NTF can designate are public and private hospitals, health facilities of other national government agencies, local government units, and other members of the private sector.

The EUA also states that the Philippine unit of Pfizer would provide the required ultra-cold storage for the vaccines, unless it has an agreement with the DOH or the NTF providing otherwise.

But its emergency approval does 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.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., however, said that the country may secure doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as early as February through the COVAX facility, a platform set up to ensure COVID-19 shots reach those in greatest need.

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.

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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