PH approves emergency use of J&J, Bharat Biotech vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines made by US company Johnson & Johnson and Indian manufacturer Bharat Biotech.
Both vaccines can be administered to people aged 18 and above, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said on Tuesday.
J&J is currently conducting late-stage clinical trials for its vaccine.
The single-shot vaccines developed by J&J’s unit Janssen and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are the fifth and sixth, respectively, to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country.
Joey Concepcion, the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, welcomed the approval, noting that Covaxin in particular “is a very promising vaccine with an efficacy rate of 81 percent.’’
The Indian company, Concepcion said, “promised an early arrival this coming May and June’’ of the Covaxin shots ordered by the private sector.
Request for AstraZeneca
“As of now, we are expecting a total of 8 million doses of Covaxin for the Philippines,” said Concepcion, who heads the advocacy group Go Negosyo, which is set to hold a town-hall Zoom meeting on the vaccine on April 27.
Companies that wish to join the meeting and are interested in Covaxin may contact Coleen Pabua at 0915-499-6570 or Leisa Navarro at 0966-399-3019, or email [email protected], he said.
Also on Tuesday, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said US officials were looking into the country’s request to get a portion of the US supply of AstraZeneca vaccines.
“The last word I got from the State Department is that it’s already up [to] what they call the committee, the one that’s in charge of the vaccines here in the United States, to see how they can help the Philippines, perhaps donate it even to us,” Romualdez said in an online press briefing.
Other countries have made a similar appeal to the United States, he noted.
Romualdez said the United States had a stockpile or reserve supply of 25 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The United States has yet to grant an EUA to AstraZeneca but has approved the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
The Philippines on March 4 received an initial delivery of 525,600 AstraZeneca doses from the COVAX global vaccine pool, and expects another batch for the second dose that needs to be administered within four to 12 weeks.
Carlos Sorreta, the Philippine ambassador to Russia, confirmed the arrival this month of 20,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine of Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. This initial shipment will be followed by 480,000 more Gamaleya doses by the end of April—for a total of 500,000 doses this month, he said.
The Department of Health on Monday also announced the arrival this month of the 500,000 doses.
Sorreta acknowledged the problems delaying the production of Gamaleya vaccines, as reported in the international media, but that up to 20 million doses of that brand would be delivered to the Philippines in the succeeding months until the end of the year.
—REPORTS FROM REUTERS, ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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