AstraZeneca jab gets nod for all age groups

A file photo taken on February 6, 2021 shows a box containing vials of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Foch hospital in Suresnes, on the start of a vaccination campaign for health workers with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
AFP/Alain Jocard

MANILA, Philippines — The AstraZeneca vaccine can again be used for those below 60 years old, the Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday.

On April 8, the DOH and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended the use of AstraZeneca on the 18 to 59 age group amid reports of “very rare cases” of Vaccine-Induced Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia (VITT) or blood clots among vaccine recipients in other countries.

The resumption of AstraZeneca vaccination for all age groups came following recommendations from the FDA and the DOH All Experts Group on Vaccines and consultation with the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (PCHTM).

“After discussions with the DOH All Experts Group and the PCHTM it was concluded that there are currently no known risk factors for VITT,” it added.

To date, there is no reported case of vaccine-related blood clot confirmed by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) and the FDA.

To mitigate the risks, the DOH issued guidelines that will strengthen post-vaccination surveillance at all vaccination sites. Health care workers will be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms and refer vaccinees to the appropriate health facility.

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Big boost

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion called the decision “a big boost” toward efforts to vaccinate economic frontliners.

“It’s certainly a huge step forward, especially when it comes to combating vaccine hesitancy. This is a big boost, especially following the endorsement of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) promoting the vaccination of private sector employees,” he said.

“Economic frontliners come in all age groups, and we need everyone safe and vaccinated for us to return back to normal,” Concepcion said.

Go Negosyo’s Let’s Go Bakuna information and education campaign is already in full swing to combat vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos.

1.5 M Sinovac jabs arrive

National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday announced the arrival of 1.5 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine purchased by the government. It is the single biggest delivery from the Chinese manufacturer so far.

The delivery arrived at 7:59 a.m. at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 on board a Cebu Pacific Airbus A330 flight from Beijing. Refrigerated trucks transported the vaccines to a cold storage facility in Marikina.

Galvez noted that government expects the delivery of more AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines through the COVAX Facility within the second quarter.

To date, the country has received a total of 5,540,600 vaccine doses – five million from Sinovac, 525,600 from AstraZeneca and 15,000 from Gamaleya.

Meanwhile, a Reuters report datelined Geneva said the World Health Organization expects news on Friday regarding an emergency use listing for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Chinese state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm, a WHO spokesman said.

“We are kind of expecting an update on the EUL listing for Sinopharm in the next hour or so,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing.

Results of its review of the COVID-19 shot made by Sinovac Biotech could come next week, he said.

A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators on a product’s safety and efficacy. It would also allow the shot to be included in COVAX, the global program to provide vaccines mainly for poor countries, but which currently faces major supply constraints. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Richmond Mercurio

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