COVID-19 vaccine candidate found ‘more than 90% effective’ in first interim efficacy analysis

Marje Pelayo   •   November 10, 2020   •   291

NEW YORK, USA — Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced on Monday (November 9) that a vaccine candidate it has jointly developed with BioNTech was found to be 90% effective in preventing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the ongoing Phase 3 trials.

According to Pfizer, preliminary findings of the first interim efficacy analysis conducted on November 8, 2020 by an external, independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) showed that patients develop protection seven days after the second dose of a two-dose schedule. 

This means that protection is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination.

“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.

“We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” he added.

The firm plans the submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is currently expected to occur in the third week of November.

PH gov’t tapping 3 sources for COVID-19 vaccine fund – DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government has identified three sources for its planned P73.2 billion novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine fund that will enable the inoculation of the targeted 60 million Filipinos against the virus, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the funding sources include multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB), from which the government can obtain around P40 billion through “low-cost, long-term loans.”

The government is also tapping P20 billion from domestic government financial institutions (GFIs) such as the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), he added.

Dominguez said the remaining P13.2 billion will be sourced from bilateral negotiations with countries from where the vaccines would originate, such as the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).

“So ang total niyan is about P73.2 billion financing–that is pretty much almost fixed. Most of it is already fixed. P13.2 billion hindi pa completely negotiated. So P73.2 billion,” Dominguez said during a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City on Monday.

According to Dominguez, the estimated fund were based on an average vaccine cost of P1,200 per person.

“Some are lower, some are higher so we don’t know exactly how much is the cost. But let say, US$25 or P1,200. P73.2 billion is good for 60 million people to be vaccinated,” he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that inoculating 60 million Filipinos may enable the country to reach “herd immunity,” based on pronouncements from the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Herd immunity” is a vaccination term in which a population becomes protected from a particular virus after reaching a threshold or certain number of vaccinated people.

Citing a WHO report, Duque said that herd immunity can be acquired if 60 to 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, which means that with 60 million inoculated Filipinos the country would “pretty much arrest the spread” of the virus.

President Duterte previously said that the country’s poorest population, and members of the military and police and other essential workers will be among those to be given priority in the would-be government’s COVID-19 immunization drive.

Duterte wants cops, soldiers to be first to get COVID-19 shot

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to include policemen and soldiers in the list of sectors to be given priority in the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mass vaccination, citing their importance especially during times of emergencies.

“I need a healthy military and police kasi ‘pag magkasakit lahat ‘yan, wala na akong maasahan, wala na tayong mautusan kung gawin ‘to, gawin doon,” Duterte said during his meeting with the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Monday.

The president described the police and the military as the “errand boys of the Republic,” since uniformed personnel are at the forefront in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as rescue and relief efforts in areas affected by recent calamities.

“Kita naman ninyo ‘yung baha sa Luzon, several, nakita ninyo ‘yung military, Coast Guard, lahat na pumupunta na doon, pulis. And then they have to take care of the law and order situation,” he said.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said they will make use of geographical and sectoral strategies in the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

Areas with high cases of COVID-19 such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu will be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccines.

Once the infected areas have been selected, vaccines will then be distributed to the target beneficiaries including essential workers, poor and vulnerable sectors.

Galvez earlier projected that the vaccine supply can be made available by the second quarter of 2021 once an agreement with vaccine developers has been signed.

Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu top priority in COVID-19 vaccine deployment – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu will be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine once it becomes available, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez said this is part of the government’s strategy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass immunization in adherence to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the poor and government frontliners in the vaccination.

During a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in Davao City on Monday, Galvez said they will employ two strategies in the distribution of the vaccine – geographical and sectoral.

Once the infected areas have been selected, vaccines will then be distributed to the target beneficiaries.

The vaccine czar expressed confidence that this strategies will help the country contain the spread of the virus and recover from economic losses due to the pandemic.

“And then from geographical magiging sectoral. Meaning, kung sino ‘yung priority natin ‘no, for example sa Manila, ‘yung urban poor uunahin po natin ‘yon; ‘yung mga vulnerable uunahin po natin doon; ‘yung mga sundalong naka-assign sa NCR uunahin po natin at saka po ‘yung mga essential workers,” Galvez said.

“Iyon po mayroon pong impact ‘yon kaagad sa ating economy at may impact kaagad na ma-contain po kaagad. So ang strategy po natin, Mr. President, po is geographical, priority ang NCR, priority ang Davao dahil ang Davao po ngayon umaakyat din, priority ‘yung Cebu, priority po ‘yung mga Bacolod, ‘yung mga tinamaan po ng mabibigat ng COVID,” he added.

Immunizing areas with high number of COVID-19 infections will help the government in its assessment on the efficacy of the vaccines, according to Galvez.

So far, several vaccine developers are set to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines. These include Sinovac, Hansen, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, and CanSino.

Duterte earlier allowed the release of advance payment to companies developing potential COVID-19 vaccine to secure the country’s supply as recommended by Galvez.

With the president’s approval, the vaccine czar said the government can now proceed with Advance Market Commitment and start negotiating with big pharmaceutical companies such as China’s Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

He added that the government can secure advance commitment with Astra Zeneca for 20 million doses this month.

Galvez earlier projected that the vaccine supply can be made available by the second quarter of 2021 once an agreement has been signed.

The Philippine government previously said it is looking at multilateral financing institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance vaccine procurements.

Local banks such as the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines are also possible sources of funds.

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