MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it is still waiting for China-based Sinovac’s clinical trial data showing that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe to use on senior citizens. This, after the Philippines' stockpile of AstraZeneca jabs ran out.
In late February, a Sinovac official claimed that their vaccine can be used by health workers and senior citizens. Philippine officials heading the COVID-19 response also said they want to use the vaccine for the elderly since anecdotally there are limited side effects.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said last month that it will only change the details of the emergency use authorization for Sinovac once it receives evidence on the trial results.
“As of yesterday, nakausap natin FDA, wala pa ring submission ang Sinovac ng additional evidences na kailangan natin. So we are awaiting although we coordinated already because we know kailangan natin dito sa ating country because naubos na ang AstraZeneca doses natin,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
(As of yesterday, when we talked to the FDA, Sinovac still has no additional evidences that we need. So we are awaiting although we coordinated already because we know the country needs this because our AstraZeneca doses has already run out.)
The Philippines has only received 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with only 525,000 coming from AstraZeneca and the rest from Sinovac. Only AstraZeneca has been approved for elderly use based on the emergency use authorization issued by the FDA. This is due to the clinical trials done by the Europe-based company on elderly patients.
Vergeire assured the public that they are closely coordinating with Sinovac so that the EUA can be amended to expand use for senior citizens.
Of the 2.5 million doses received, almost 1.5 million have already been distributed. Of this number, only 740,000 had been administered. The government plans to inoculate 70 million Filipinos by the end of the year to reach herd immunity but it has been criticized for the slow rollout of vaccines. Until now, it has yet to reach the estimated 1.8 million health workers although it has allowed simultaneous vaccination of senior citizens and people with comorbidities to speed up the process.