EUA application for Sinopharm vax now being processed — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021   •   113

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it has started the process of the filing of the application for emergency use authorization (EUA) of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine developed by Chinese drug maker Sinopharm.

In an online briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario said they are just waiting for the dossier of Sinopharm to complete the application process.

“We were already instructed to process and facilitate the application for the EUA of Sinopharm,” she said.

“Ito po ay inaayos na natin ngayon, kailangan lang natin makuha yung mga dokumento, the dossier of Sinopharm so we can complete the process of applying for this EUA,” she added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that the EUA application will be filed after the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use.

A WHO emergency listing means that a product’s safety and efficacy have been rigorously evaluated. It will also allow the product to be included in the COVAX facility – a global program that seeks to provide vaccine supply mainly for poor countries.

The emergency use listing will also allow countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The DOH, however, stressed that the vaccine will still undergo a thorough evaluation and strict regulatory process by the country’s vaccine experts panel and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even if it has been granted WHO emergency use listing.

Vergeire also emphasized that this is not the first time that the DOH will be applying EUA for a certain vaccine product and that it has existing policies supporting the process.

“Hindi lang ito ang unang pagkakataon na mag-a-apply ng EUA ang DOH para sa mga new technologies like these vaccines. We have done this for the COVAX facility, ginawa rin po natin ito para sa mga donasyon na bakuna from China, yung Sinovac,” she said.

“This is actually something that we do so that we can facilitate the process of receiving vaccines but of course, everything undergoes the strict regulatory process,” she added.

The FDA earlier said that three firms have expressed intent to seek EUA for the Sinopharm but they have yet to submit the required documents.

With the EUA application through the DOH, Vergeire said the agency will not be representing any manufacturer.

“We are not going to represent any manufacturer for that matter. The reason why we are doing this is merong posibilidad na magiging government to government ang transaksyon o negotiations for Sinopharm,” she said.

“When you say it’s government to government, it is like the donations, pag sa donasyon, sasabihin ng isang gobyerno sa abroad ‘magdo-donate ako sa inyo,’ kami na ang mag-a-apply para doon. Walang manufacturer na kasama dito, gobyerno sa ibang bansa ang kausap namin,” she explained.

“This is the pathway na tinitingnan namin ngayon for Sinopharm baka pwedeng dito na rin kami dadaan, mas magiging mabilis ang proseso. But of course, as I’ve said, we’ll still go through the usual regulatory process, it’s just that instead of the manufacturers applying for this EUA, it’s the government through the DOH who’s going to apply for this emergency use authority,” she further stated.

The Philippines has so far granted EUA to COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech, Gamaleya Institute, and Johnson&Johnson.

Filipinos are allowed to get vaccinated anywhere in PH — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can get inoculated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) anywhere in the country under the government’s “no wrong door policy” in its vaccination drive, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

 “Meron ho tayong tinatawag na no wrong door policy. Ibig sabihin, kung ikaw ay nagpunta sa Davao at ikaw ay puwede nang bakunahan, puwede ka bakunahan doon kahit hindi ka taga-Davao,” Health Undersecretary Mari Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“Hindi po natin sinasara ang ating mga pinto sa mga bakunahan dahil hindi ka taga doon na lugar,” she added.

The health official, however, stressed that the vaccination should be done through appointments and that walk-ins should be discouraged as this tends to result in crowding.

The DOH previously said that local government units may open separate walk-in lanes in their COVID-19 vaccination centers as walk-ins may be used as substitutes for those who are scheduled for inoculation but do no show up on a certain date.

The agency, however, said that the number of walk-ins that would be accommodated per day in jab sites should be limited.

The DOH earlier urged the public to pre-register for the vaccination and get inoculated when it’s their turn.

No favoritism in deployment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday denied claims it is favoring certain areas when it comes to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by American drug firm Pfizer-BioNTech.

The DOH issued the statement following reports that Davao City has received a substantial number of Pfizer jabs.

Davao City is President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that the national government is not giving any preferential treatment and that available vaccine doses in the country are allocated based on need and the prioritization framework.

“Wala pong paborito, base lang po sa pangangailangan, base lang po sa prioritization framework,” Vergeire said during a press briefing.

Reports claimed that Davao City got a huge number of Pfizer vaccine doses while other regions in Mindanao received fewer jabs.

But Dr. Adbullah Dumama Jr., DOH Undersecretary for the Visayas and Mindanao Field Implementation and Coordination team, said the 210,000 doses for Davao is for the whole region and not only for the City.

The same amount of Pfizer jabs were also allotted for Cebu Province, he added.

“Wala pong pagkakaiba yung doses na naibigay sa Cebu at sa Davao… Wala hong favoritism dito,” he said in the same briefing.

 “Hindi po ito pang Davao City lang. Sa Davao region po ito at yung mga karatig pook na merong mga pangangailangan sa Pfizer,” he added.

Dumama also said that Davao and Cebu areas were given Pfizer shots because they have ultra-low freezers that are capable of storing the vaccine.

“Nabigyan lang ito ng ganun kalaki [na allocation], kung sa palagay ninyo ay malaki, ay dahil sa tayo ay mayroong capability, meron po tayong ultra-low temperature freezers dito. Doon ho sa ibang lugar, wala pa pero dahil sa dito lang ito, maaari kaming magbigay as ibang lugar na nangnangailangan,” he said.

According to Vergeire, there are only five areas in the country that have yet to receive Pfizer vaccines due to lack of appropriate vaccine storage capability. There are the Bangsamoro region, Caraga, Regions 12, 5 and Mimaropa.

The Bangsamoro government earlier said it will pass a resolution that would authorize the procurement of ultra-low freezers and increase its vaccination centers in the region.

The national government has announced it has inked a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for the purchase of 40 million doses, which may be delivered starting August this year.

The DOH said it is now preparing to capacitate all regions in the country to handle the storage of Pfizer vaccines.


DOH says surge in COVID-19 cases in Visayas, Mindanao due to ‘multitude of factors’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The rise in COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao areas could be attributed to a “multitude of factors,” the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have noted some factors that have contributed to the spike in infections in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, including the complacency in enforcing and observing health protocols.

The DOH also observed the clustering of infections in workplaces and prisons in the said areas.

“Lagi po nating sinasabi na pag may tumataas po na kaso sa bawat lugar, we need to look at a multitude of factors because we know that there are these different factors which causes the transmission of the virus,” Vergeire said.

“Meron tayong pang-indibidwal at pang-komunidad na pagpapatupad po natin ng minimum health protocols at ‘pag tiningnan natin there are reports already coming to us from our different regional epidemiological and surveillance units na talagang mukhang nagkaroon ng complacency sa pagpapatupad ng health protocols,” she added.

Vergeire said the presence of coronavirus variants in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao may also have contributed to the surge.

“Totoo po na meron na tayong na-detect na variants sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Visayas and Mindanao and these can also be drivers of the infection but let us not just rely or let us not just say that it’s just because of the variants, there are a multitude of factors,” she said.

“Kailangan po kapag tayo ay tumitingin sa response natin, it’s a continuum. So we will need to address, not just the variants, but also the other forms of response that we are having,” she added.

Data from the DOH showed that active COVID-19 cases in the Visayas stood at 13,313, and 14,426 in Mindanao as of June 20.

The DOH reiterated its call to the public to continue adhering to health protocols mandated by the government to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.


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