Philippines eyes additional COVID-19 shot for immunocompromised people

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2021 06:31 PM

Elderly citizens receive their second dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine inside the Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila on Sept. 4, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Elderly citizens receive their second dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine inside the Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila on Sept. 4, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA—The Philippines is planning to give an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people due to higher risk of breakthrough infection, a health official said Friday.

This, after the World Health Organization has advised countries of providing additional anti-virus shot to people with lower immunity due to underlying health conditions.

"Lahat po ng ito, ang mga plano (All of the plans), it is already underway. Kailangan lang po natin makapaghintay din (We'll just need to wait)," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

"Of course, we will need an EUA (emergency use authorization) from the Food and Drug Administration before we can start implementing ito pong mga rekomendasyon na ito (these recommendations)," she added.

Vergeire said the agency's all-expert panel had agreed with the recommendations of the UN health agency.

"Ilalagay lang ho natin sa proseso (It just needs to undergo a process) but everything is underway and the government is already planning for this," she said.

The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization said the additional dose should be offered "as part of an extended primary series since these individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease."

The panel also recommended that people over 60 receive an additional dose of the shots made by Chinese vaccine makers Sinopharm and Sinovac some 1 to 3 months after completing their schedule, citing evidence in studies in Latin America that they perform less well over time.

Observational data on Sinopharm and Sinovac shots "clearly showed that in older age groups ... the vaccine performs less well after two doses," said Joachim Hombach, secretary of the independent panel of experts who held a 5-day closed-door meeting last week.

Health authorities using the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines should aim first to maximize 2-dose coverage in the older populations and then administer the third dose, the panel said.

Vergeire explained that booster doses were given if the protection offered by the vaccine dropped over time.

Meanwihle, third doses are provided if jab recipients such as those considered immunocompromised have not mounted appropriate immunity against the disease.

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Courtesy of the Department of Health

—With a report from Reuters