PH has capacity to produce vaccines — DOST

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 4, 2021   •   653

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) believes that it is possible for the Philippines to become a vaccine manufacturer.

During the ‘Kapihan sa Manila Bay’ on Wednesday (March 3), DOST Usec. Rowena Guevara said the country has new technologies and equipment to be able to produce vaccines.

“Because of the modernity of technologies today for producing vaccines, a fill and finish facility can easily be done within one year’s time,” she said.

A fill and fish facility is the process of filling vials with vaccines and finishing the process of packaging for distribution.

Guevarra said the department is already coordinating with other government agencies to co-invest with the local company for the local manufacturing of vaccines.

“We have been in touch with the Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investment and the National Development Corporation or the investment arm of DTI, and they are willing to co-invest with the local company that is willing to do local manufacturing of the vaccines,” she added.

Senior Vice President for Social Partnership for Unilab Inc. Atty. Jose Maria Ochave also agreed with the DOST regarding the need for the country to manufacture vaccines, especially amid a pandemic.

This will protect the country from what he refers to as vaccine supply agreements that do not cover eventualities such as pandemics.

“There is always a provision saying that they will not be obliged to supply us in case of a pandemic and their home governments have prevented them from supplying outside of their home countries.”

He added that locally manufacturing vaccines can be beneficial in cases of future pandemics. -AAC (with reports from Marcin Calas)

Ivermectin clinical trials to push through this September despite delays — DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   September 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said preparations are almost done for the start of the ivermectin clinical trial this month.

The clinical trial is necessary to find out if the controversial drug is effective against COVID-19, Dr. Jaime Montoya of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) said.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, Montoya said the agency had to adjust its protocol based on the standards of the international consortium before it launches the clinical trial for ivermectin.

“Dahil po may mga nag-review ng ating mga protocol na galing sa international reviewers po ay binago po natin ang ilang aspeto sa ating protocol para mapaganda pa po ito,” Montoya said.

Montoya added that the clinical trial for ivermectin in the country is supported by major international health bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute on Health, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Also, he noted the importance of the clinical trial to come up with evidence on its effectiveness against COVID-19, with Filipinos as the concentration of the trial.

“Napakahalaga na magkaroon tayo ng lokal na datos tungkol sa mga Pilipino na nabibigyan ng gamot na ito, tungkol sa safety issue, sa mga side effects, kung ito po ay totoong mabisa sa mga Pilipinong may COVID-19,” he said.

“Kailangan gumawa pa ng clinical trial para magkaroon ng sapat na ebidensya kung ito ba ay magagamit o hindi para sa COVID-19,” he added.

Currently, the DOST’s requirements are being evaluated by the consortium’s ethics committee.

Once it is finished, the DOST hopes the clinical trial for ivermectin will push through this month as initially planned.

“Ito po sa kasalukuyan ay tinatapos na ang ethics at technical review bago po ito magsimula dahil ang target natin ay this month po ‘yan dapat magsimula,” he said.

PH receives another batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shots

Robie de Guzman   •   September 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 703,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine made by US-based Pfizer arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

A part of the shipment, around 51,480 doses were first unloaded in Cebu while the rest arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) around 9 p.m.

Part of the shots that arrived in Manila will be deployed to Davao on Thursday, the NTF said.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the Philippines is expecting to receive some 25 million more COVID-19 doses this September.

Since February, the Philippines has received more than 52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various manufacturers.

Over 33 million of which have already been administered while nearly 14 million individuals have been fully vaccinated against the viral disease since the immunization drive started in March.

WHO calls for pausing distribution of booster shots

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 5, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a pause on the distribution of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster shots.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said high-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people, while low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.

“We cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines, using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected,” he said.

“That’s why I am calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated,” he added.

Ghebreyesus is calling out to the concerned countries to prioritize COVAX. He also called for everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.

Meanwhile, the WHO’s goal remains to support every country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of September and at least 40% by the end of this year, and 70% of the world’s population by the middle of next year. -AAC

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