Philippines approves use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5-11

Picture of vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 taken as elderly people are being inoculated amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, at the Carlos A Mendoza school in San Miguelito neighborhood in Panama City on March 4, 2021.
AFP / Luis Acosta, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ drug regulator has granted emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to be used on children aged five to 11.

Food and Drug Administration director general Eric Domingo told state-run People’s Television on Thursday that local experts have found that the “data submitted is sufficient” for approval.

The approval came a week after Domingo announced Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted an application for an EUA for its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.

“It is reasonable to believe that the vaccine may be effective to prevent COVID-19 and the benefits of vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks,” he said.

He added that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 90% in children aged five to 11, while side effects of the shot in this age group are “very mild.”

Currently, the Philippines is using Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines to vaccinate minors aged 12 to 17.

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With the new FDA approval, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab can be used in children aged five to 11, albeit not immediately as the dosage and concentration of the drug to be used in this age group is lower.

Domingo said this means that the Philippine government would have to procure new jabs specifically for the inoculation of children aged five to 11.

The Philippines has rolled out a series of regulatory approvals amid the worrying threat of the Omicron variant, that appears to be more infectious than the already transmissible Delta variant, which caused a devastating surge in the country from August to September.

Among these are the shortening of the interval for booster doses from six months to three months and the emergency use authorization of a brand of the anti-COVID pill molnupiravir.

Philstar.com's independent monitoring shows that over 40% of the Philippines' population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday — way behind the 90% target the health authorities are eyeing to achieve herd immunity.

Still, the vaccination program is attributed to have curbed infections in the country, where only 9,238 people are still grappling with the disease as of Wednesday.

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