Vaccine panel head underscores need for locally produced COVID-19 jabs
MANILA, Philippines — A member of the government’s vaccine expert panel underscored the need for the Philippines to produce COVID-19 vaccines so that the country would no longer be at the “mercy of suppliers.”
“Actually medyo proactive na rin po ang DOST (Department of Science and Technology) in that way na pinaguusapan na hindi tayo pwedeng nasa mercy ng mga suppliers na ‘pag ayaw nila tayong bigyan, e ‘di wala tayo,” Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the DOST’s vaccine development expert panel, said in a media forum Tuesday when asked regarding the possibility of the Philippines locally producing vaccines.
(Actually the DOST is being proactive about this, there are already discussions that we should not be at the mercy of suppliers, that if they won’t supply us, we’re left with nothing.)
“We have to capacitate. To build capacity for the Philippines. Noon pa nga sana pero [This should have been done before but], never mind, we have to learn from all of this,” she added.
The Philippine government is procuring COVID-19 vaccines for its inoculation drive, which targets to accomplish the vaccination of 70 million Filipinos within the year.
The country is expecting the April delivery of 1.5 million doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac and another 500,000 doses of Sputnik V from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.
In addition, the delivery of 979,200 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility is also expected later this month.
‘We’re racing against time
Meanwhile, Gloriani urged those already eligible for vaccination to get immunized with the vaccines currently available.
“We have very limited options. The vaccine in your arm is the vaccine that is good and you need,” she said, noting that the vaccines approved for emergency use in the country went through a thorough process.
“May konting safety considerations yung iba [There may be some safety considerations in some of them] but it’s the totality of evidence that we’re looking at,” she added.
Nevertheless, she assured the public that the expert panel will issue updates on evolving data regarding the different COVID-19 vaccines.
“We will guide you along. But in the meantime, have yourselves vaccinated ‘pag pinatawag kayo…Naghahabol po tayo dahil [we want to get to our target], we want the herd immunity,” Gloriani said.
“We want that 70 to 80 percent herd immunity, especially because the variants are here. We’re racing against time. We don’t want the virus to overtake us, unahan natin ang virus. Ang virus po ang kalaban natin dito [we should get ahead of the virus. Our enemy here is the virus],” she added.
So far, the government has inoculated over 1 million Filipinos against COVID-19 since vaccine rollout began on Mar. 1.
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