MANILA—The country's vaccine expert panel will decide next week if COVID-19 booster shots are needed to curb the ongoing transmission of the disease, its chair said Friday.
"By next week, baka meron na tayong maging decision diyan. Tuloy-tuloy naman 'yung aming pag-uusap pero you know marami kasing kinoconsider no, 'yung breakthrough infections sa health-care workers," Dr. Nina Gloriani told Teleradyo.
(By next week, we will maybe have a decision about that. Our discussion about that is ongoing but we are considering many things such as the breakthrough infections to our health-care workers.)
Thailand is planning to give AstraZeneca or mRNA-type booster shots to an estimated 3.4 million people who were administered the Sinovac brand earlier.
Booster doses have already been given to medical and frontline workers who received the Chinese vaccine in Thailand.
Gloriani said they were looking for the "best possible solution" to protect health-care workers amid the scarcity of vaccine supplies.
Should booster shots be made available, she said medical frontliners would be prioritized as they are the most exposed to the risk of COVID-19.
To date, only 14.1 million people in the country are fully vaccinated. This is 19.91 percent of the government's target of 70 million adult Filipinos.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. had said he was open to the idea of giving booster shots to health-care workers already fully vaccinated with Sinovac.
His statement came more than a month after a study showed that antibodies triggered by Sinovac's vaccine declined around 6 months after a second dose for most recipients, although a third shot had a strong booster effect.
For its part, the World Health Organization had urged countries to "hold back" on providing booster shots as experts have yet to see "any evidence" that an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine could prevent breakthrough infections.