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DOH plans Omicron-adapted vaccine purchase

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
DOH plans Omicron-adapted vaccine purchase
A number of people received their COVID-19 vaccine shot in Quezon City on July 12, 2022.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has bared its plan to procure Omicron-adapted vaccines from other countries once these become available.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that these vaccines, referred to as new generation vaccines for COVID-19, specifically target the Omicron subvariants.

“We are going to explore that possibility. We are preparing, and we are going to procure if ever it is available already,” Vergeire said at a recent press briefing.

She added, “These are what the (vaccine) manufacturers have been saying that it is specific to Omicron, because the previous formulations of vaccines were specific for the other variants but not for Omicron.”
Vergeire believed that this kind of vaccine, made by Moderna, might become available by the 4th quarter of this year.
“That is why in our recommendation concerning budget, we have allotted funding for this, so that in case this type of vaccine is given a nod by our experts and becomes available, we will go through that procurement process to benefit the public,” she said.
She noted that the Food and Drug Administration will give its recommendations to the expert panel of the Health Technology Assessment Council.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ted Herbosa, special adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 and an expert on disaster and emergency medicine, also confirmed that manufacturers are reformulating their vaccines to either include or address Omicron subvariants.
“In that way, we will have more protection against these new variants that have been going around,” Herbosa said in yesterday’s Laging Handa public briefing.

He noted, though, that the manufacture of such vaccines will take around six months and that the country will have to wait in line before it will be able to secure the supplies as the manufacturing countries would have to prioritize the needs of its own people.

“For the meantime, I advise our kababayans (fellow Filipinos) to have themselves vaccinated with the available vaccines since these also provide protection. At least there is partial protection. Because, if we wait for these new vaccines, it is possible that new variants will again surface,” Herbosa said.

Earlier, the DOH reported that the latest Omicron subvariant BA.2.75, more known as Centaurus, has already entered the country after two individuals from Region 6 tested positive for it.

Vergeire said Centaurus is seen as being more transmissible and has more immune evasion compared to other subvariants.

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