DOH eases concerns over UK vaccine allergy warning
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) sought to ease concerns about the allergy warning that British health authorities issued on the first COVID-19 vaccine to roll out in the world, which was produced by US drug firm Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that allergies are a “common side effect” to new drugs and vaccines, and local health professionals know how to deal with such matters.
“These drugs and vaccines are foreign materials which our bodies could react differently to. [The reaction] is going to be different across different individuals. Just because a person got allergic to it doesn’t mean I too would have an allergic reaction,” Vergeire said on Friday.
The DOH official made the assurance after the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that those with “significant history of allergic reactions” should be excluded from the COVID-19 vaccination program because of two cases of adverse reactions.
Vergeire said the warning was only meant to avoid recurrences and local officials have already made preparations for similar incidents.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo, for instance, had already announced that both his agency and the DOH will conduct post-authorization monitoring once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the country.
He added that this mechanism also ensures that when there are “unusual or suspicious adverse events,” these can immediately be investigated and they can decide on whether to continue the vaccination.
“It’s really important to have a very strong monitoring and surveillance mechanism, both passive and active,” Domingo said.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is the first to be administered to the public outside of clinical trials. After securing the MHRA’s emergency approval last week, the vaccine got the nod this week of the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), which said it was safe and effective against the new coronavirus.
“The known and potential benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks for use in individuals 16 years of age and older,” the USFDA said.
Also on Friday, the DOH logged an additional 1,504 cases, pushing the national tally to 447,039.
Davao City reported the most number of new infections, 122, followed by Rizal (85), Quezon City (80), Santiago City (67), and Bulacan (64).
Another 273 patients have recovered, raising the total number of survivors to 409,329.
The death toll stands at 8,709 following the deaths of eight more patients.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 29,001 active cases, of which 85.8 percent are mild, 6.7 percent asymptomatic, 0.25 percent moderate, 2.4 percent severe and 4.8 percent critical.
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