PH eyes ‘new generation’ vaccines vs Omicron
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may be able to procure by the first quarter of next year the so-called “new generation” vaccines, or those that specifically target the Omicron variant, which is the only remaining COVID-19 strain in circulation in the country. Asked on the government’s next steps in COVID-19 vaccine procurement, Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer in charge of the Department of Health (DOH), said the health agency has been in talks with vaccine manufacturers regarding the possible purchase of variant-specific jabs, also known as bivalent vaccines. “We are in talks with manufacturers regarding these new generation vaccines … when we look at these new vaccines specific to the Omicron, these are going to be evaluated again and we will still negotiate [further] our agreements with manufacturers,” Vergeire told a press conference on Friday. “When we look at the processes, our estimate is that we would be able to get these kinds of vaccines, maybe in the first quarter of 2023,” Vergeire said. The latest genome sequencing run from July 17 to Aug. 28 showed that the Omicron variant had become the dominant COVID-19 strain, 95 percent of which was identified with the highly transmissible sublineage BA.5. Biotechnology company Moderna is developing two bivalent vaccines specifically against the Omicron variant. —Kathleen de Villa
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