Bulk of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries expected to arrive in PH starting June — Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021   •   279

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government expects to receive the bulk of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries from June to August, which could speed up the country’s mass vaccination drive, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting in Malacañang on Monday, Galvez said they are expecting around 10 to 15 million vaccine doses by August.

Galvez also reported that he has secured five contracts with different drug makers and that the financing schemes are currently being ironed out.

These firms include Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, and Gamaleya Institute, he said, adding that Johnson & Johnson already received an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“‘Yong Sinovac, ito ang pinaka-steady supply natin at saka po ‘yong Gamaleya. Pagka nagkaroon na tayo ng initial delivery, magiging steady na,” he said, adding he expects Moderna and AstraZeneca to also make their vaccine deliveries soon.

For this quarter, the government is eyeing to receive two million doses of COVID-19 jabs. Around 500,000 vaccine doses of these will come from Sinovac, 20,000 doses from Gamaleya and 195,000 doses from Pfizer through the COVAX facility.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said at least 20,000 doses of Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V vaccine will be delivered in the next few days.

According to Galvez, the Sputnik V vaccine doses will be a mini rollout as the Russian pharmaceutical company conducts testing in the Philippines.

Galvez also reported that once the bilateral agreements are completed, Pfizer could make an early delivery of 2.4 million doses in the second quarter.

“And then sa May mayroon tayong ini-expect na four million; two million po sa Sinovac. Ito nabayaran na po ‘to natin, mahal na President, ‘yong 3.5 million na 1.5 million sa April at saka two million sa May,” he told the Duterte.

The vaccine czar also disclosed that the Philippine government expects to sign a contract with Gamaleya on Tuesday after ordering around one to two million doses from the Russian drug manufacturer.

Galvez added that he is also looking at getting 194,000 doses from Moderna.

The Philippines has so far vaccinated over one million Filipinos against COVID-19.

Some 965,960 healthcare workers have received the first doses of the jab. There are 132,948 senior citizens and 180,315 persons with co-morbidities who also received the shot.

Duterte may take second dose from Sinovac if Sinopharm fails to secure EUA – vaccine expert

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may still get his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine using a different brand should Sinopharm fail to secure approval from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a member of the Philippine vaccine expert panel said Thursday.

Infectious disease expert and vaccine expert panel member Dr. Rontgene Solante said Duterte may be inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine as this brand is similar to Sinopharm.

Duterte was vaccinated on Monday using Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, which has yet to be granted an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

“As long as hindi pa yan [aprubado para sa] emergency use authorization, dapat hindi ibabakuna,” Solante said.

“Iyong second dose pwede niyang (Duterte) ipahabol ang Sinopharm but Sinopharm has to produce the data and submit it to VEP and FDA,” he added.

“Kung halimbawa hindi na pwede ang Sinopharm, meron naman isang bakuna na magkahawig sa Sinopharm, na nabigyan na rin ng approval natin – yung Sinovac… It is possible because they have the same platform,” he further stated.

COVID-19 vaccines made by Sinovac and Sinopharm are both whole virus vaccines that use weakened or deactivated form of the pathogen that causes COVID-19 to trigger protective immunity to it. Inactivated pathogens cannot infect cells and replicate but can trigger an immune response.

Solante said these vaccines can be stored in a standard refrigerator and are administered in two doses.

The FDA earlier said that Sinopharm’s application for EUA remains pending as firms that have filed for its emergency use in the Philippines have yet to submit requirements.

“We also stand by our policy na as long as hindi pa iyan EUA, dapat hindi ibabakuna, that is one. Pangalawa, yung Sinopharm, walang sinu-submit na mga documents sa VEP para ma-assess namin. Kung meron lang sana noon, bago nagpabakuna yung presidente, pwede naman namin i-review tapos we can also give our recommendation to the FDA,” Solante said.

Duterte earlier defended his decision to be inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine that has yet to undergo further evaluation and secure EUA from the FDA.

He apologized for using a vaccine that has not been vetted by Philippine authorities then said that he had asked China to withdraw the Sinopharm doses it donated to the Philippines.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s second Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine dose will not be returned to China so he can complete his immunization process. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DOH studying possibility of mixing vaccine brands – FDA

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is currently looking into the possibility of mixing different brands of vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday.

FDA director general Eric Domingo said the DOH is already drafting a set of guidelines that will allow a person to receive different brands of COVID-19 vaccines for first and second dose in case of severe allergic reaction and other adverse effects.

Aaralin po ngayon yan ng Department of Health, in fact, meron naman po talagang ongoing meetings ang Department of Health on that dahil meron po talagang instances na for example naturukan ka ng bakuna ng first dose tapos nagka-severe allergy ka so hindi ka na puwede sa second dose nun at kailangang isipin ngayon yung magiging alternative,” Domingo said during the Laging Handa briefing.

“Gumagawa na ng guidelines ngayon ang DOH kung paano ‘yung interchangeability or mixing ng vaccines in case the second dose cannot be given na identical doon sa first dose,” he added.

Domingo said this after President Rodrigo Duterte said he has requested China to recall the 1,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines it donated following criticisms over his decision to receive a jab that has yet to secure an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Duterte received his first dose of Sinopharm vaccine on Monday night.

Malacañang earlier said that the vaccine dose used on the president was covered by the compassionate special permit issued by the FDA for the Presidential Security Group.

DND’s Lorenzana backs Duterte remark on arbitral ruling on WPS vs China

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday expressed agreement with President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent remark on the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) favoring the Philippines in its case against China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“What President Duterte said last night regarding the PCA ruling is correct,” Lorenzana said in a statement, referring to Duterte’s statement that nothing happened when he tried to assert the arbitral ruling on the Philippines’ rights in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea.

In a pre-taped public address on Wednesday night, Duterte said he tried to pursue the arbitral ruling when he came to power in 2016 but “nothing happened,” adding that the ruling was “just a piece of paper” that can be tossed into a waste basket.

Lorenzana said he agrees with the President when he said that there is no international law enforcement body that can enforce the ruling.

He, however, stressed that even without the PCA ruling, the Philippine government will still continue to defend “what is rightfully ours.”

“As I said in my previous statement, the President’s orders have been firm and straightforward: we defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas,” he said.

Lorenzana also said that Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will continue conducting maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group.

The National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea earlier said that it has intensified maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea after Chinese vessels were spotted lingering in areas within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have repeatedly filed diplomatic protests over Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

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