Sinovac’s 50% efficacy meets WHO minimum standards — DOST

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2020   •   507

MANILA, Philippines — The national government assures that experts are carefully studying the available efficacy and safety data of every developed vaccine specifically against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from any manufacturer.

This was the response from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Philippine Council for Health Research and Development regarding reports that the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech is only 50% effective based on the late-stage trial result done by the Butantan Institute in Brazil.

This is way below the efficacy rate of the vaccines developed in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Hindi pa natin nakikita ang data. It has to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration kahit na lumalabas sa press, ganito ang kanilang efficacy,” explained DOST -PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya.

“We have to verify those data. So until such time na na-review natin ang data, we cannot make any conclusions,” he said.

Montoya stressed, however, that based on the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% efficacy is still acceptable in terms of minimum standards of a vaccine.

He added that should vaccine developers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna submit their application for use in the Philippines, it is likely that they would be the first to get emergency use authorization from the government.

This is if the negotiation on vaccine procurement would be finalized soon with the vaccine suppliers.

“Dalawa pa lang po ang naii-issuehan ng EUA ng isang stringent regulatory authority. Meaning the US, iyan ang Pfizer-BioNTech at Moderna. So if they’re going to pursue their application here in the Philippines, for the EUA also in the Philippines, then malamang sila ang mauuna na magiging available,” Montoya said.

As of this writing, DOST-PCHRD said there is no report yet that the new strain of COVID-19 affecting the UK has entered the country.

Currently, they are conducting random surveillance among COVID-19 positive tests to detect any trace of the new strain in the Philippines.

“Tayo po ay mino-monitor natin randomly ang mga viruses na nakikita natin sa Pilipinas with SARS-COV-2 through the Philippine Genome Center,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021


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.

20K Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine doses to arrive in PH ‘in next few days’ – envoy

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021


MANILA, Philippines – Around 20,000 doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute are expected to be delivered within the next few days, the Philippine ambassador to Russia announced Tuesday.

“My understanding is that we have complied with their requirement because they would not deliver unless they are satisfied with our logistics,” Ambassador Carlos Sorreta said during a Palace briefing.

Sorreta said the initial batch of Sputnik V vaccine doses would be used to “fine-tune” logistics to ensure that the vaccines’ temperature requirement will be met.

Sputnik V vaccine needs to be stored at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius.

Sorreta also reported that an additional shipment of nearly 500,000 doses will arrive in the Philippines before end of April or early May.

“Over the next few months, we’re going seven figures, about 20 million doses before the end of the year,” he said.

“I think there will be delivery as scheduled based on the agreement signed by (vaccine czar) Secretary (Carlito) Galvez,” he added.

Galvez earlier said that the government is expecting to receive 20 million doses of Sputnik V this year.

Sorreta said the delivery of Sputnik V vaccines to the Philippines took a while due to some issues that needed to be addressed.

“We are happy about this development, although it took a while. It was unavoidable. The FDA, ginagawa nila ang kanilang trabaho ngunit merong konting differences sa terminologies, sa technologies so that those have been overcome,” he said.

He also expressed optimism that the Philippines will get the vaccine supply that the government requires to meet its target inoculation despite the global supply shortage.

“We have to be cognizant of the realities, the demand is very high for the vaccine and the best we can do it to try to lock in the supplies,” he said.

“Of course, we have to manage expectations. There could be problems in production. Many things can come up,” he added.

The country has so far received over 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca firms. More than 1.4 million of these doses have been administered to healthcare workers, senior citizens and persons with co-morbidities.

The government rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program on March 1 and is targeting to inoculate 70 million people this year.

WHO: 63% of PH frontliners vaccinated against COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Nearly 63 percent of medical frontliners in the Philippines have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.

On Monday (April 19), Abeyasinghe said the Philippines has provided vaccination to almost 1.25 million frontliners. However, the WHO official said it’s still not enough to fully defend the country’s healthcare workers from the virus.

“We are still short of protecting all the frontline healthcare workers and the current surge demonstrates that we need to have healthcare workers fully protected so that they can work to care for the sick. We continue to emphasize that, let us work on a priority basis to protect the frontline healthcare workers and then move gradually to the other groups that have been identified by the WHO,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the alleged hoarding of vaccines, Abeyasinghe urged countries to share vaccines and make all technology available to all countries so that they can join in increasing the capacity of vaccine production.

“The director general early on identified this as a global moral failure that we are not distributing vaccines equitably to protect the most vulnerable and at-risk population,” he said.

He also reiterated that vaccines is just one of the additional tools in the response against the pandemic and that transmissions can be reduced by properly implementing the minimum public health standards. AAC


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