Philippines okays emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Philippines' Food and Drug Administration has authorised for emergency use the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the first to be approved in the country, which has among the most coronavirus cases in Asia, Reuters reports.
FDA head Rolando Enrique Domingo said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has shown a 95 percent success rate, could be effective in preventing coronavirus with which nearly half a million people in the Philippines have been infected.
"The benefit of using vaccine outweighs the known and potential risks," he told a briefing, adding "no specific safety concerns were identified."
The Philippines has had difficulties convincing the public to use vaccines in recent years and an opinion poll last week showed less than a third of people were willing to get inoculated against the coronavirus, with concerns over safety.
It is due to receive the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccines in the first quarter through the COVAX facility, on top of a deal it is negotiating directly with the vaccine maker.
Domingo also said China's Sinovac Biotech on Wednesday submitted its emergency use authorization application.
That followed the release of late-stage trial data in Brazil that showed efficacy at just 50.4 percent. Philippines has secured 25 million doses of Sinovac's CoronaVac, with the first 50,000 to arrive in February.
President Rodrigo Duterte defended the government's purchase of CoronaVac, saying on Wednesday night that it was as good as the shots developed by Americans and Europeans.
Carlito Galvez, who handles the vaccine procurement for the government, said it has now firmed-up supply deals with Novavax, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Russia's Gamaleya Institute.-Photo: Manila Times