Over a month has passed since the Philippines commenced its vaccination program to protect Filipinos against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the national government, LGUs and private sector made their respective deals with overseas pharmaceuticals creating COVID vaccines, the first doses administered in March came from vaccine donations. And the very first recipients were the country’s health workers and front-liners, the better to safeguard them from infection while tending the ever-increasing new COVID cases. Thus far, Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines were the only ones used due to availability and having been given Emergency Use Authorization. Soon however, they could be joined by a new one.
According to Inquirer.net, the American pharmaceutical company Moderna is likely the latest to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of their COVID-19 vaccine with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA Director-General Eric Domingo revealed this Monday, April 12, that Moderna might be submitting their EUA application with them sometime this week. Domingo added that this action may spell the end for the US drug firm and its slow pace at making its vaccines available for the country, such that China’s Sinovac and the UK-Sweden’s AstraZeneca have passed it.
“They have yet to apply,” says the FDA Director-General. “Every week we always ask them if they are ready to submit their application, they said they are still completing the requirements, so maybe this week they will apply.” Another possible reason provided by Domingo was that Moderna did not have any supply of their vaccines ready for delivery to the Philippines on short notice, which would explain why they have been in no hurry to get their EUA. He surmises that if Moderna does manage to get their application filed this week, then the FDA could finish their evaluation before the month of May arrives.
Even with the Emergency Use Authorization still in the air, Moderna already has a standing tripartite agreement with the Philippine government and the private sector for a total of 20 million doses of their vaccine. The latter gets 7 million of these while the government gets the 13 million, for distribution across the country. An added five million Moderna vaccines has already been ordered for good measure. While arrival on delivery is not until late May or early June, Sinovac and Astra Zeneca vaccines continue to be administered when available. Many medical workers have received their second doses in certain communities, and the drive has begun shifting to senior citizens.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star