Pfizer vaccine authorized for emergency use in PH
The Philippines has approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, the first one to be granted emergency use authorization in the country, according to a report by CNN Philippines.
The Food and Drug Administration granted the application of American pharmaceutical giant on Thursday, Director General Eric Domingo confirmed. An EUA issuance from the regulators is required for the vaccines to be legally rolled out in the country.
Pfizer has already secured EUA approval from United States and United Kingdom among other countries and emergency use listing from the World Health Organization after its phase 3 clinical trial showed that it was 95% effective in preventing infections after a person received two shots.
The country has not yet formally secured doses of Pfizer's shots, but vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines may receive more or less 40 million doses from the US biopharmaceutical company this year as they continue to finalize negotiations. Pfizer doses could also arrive this quarter if the Philippines' application for an early rollout under the World Health Organization's COVAX facility is granted.
Unlike other brands, Pfizer's vaccine needs to be stored in ultra-cold minus-70 degrees Celsius freezers, which are not yet widely available nationwide. Adhering to the temperature requirements during storage and distribution is crucial to ensure the efficacy of the vaccines. Galvez said distribution of Pfizer vaccines may be limited to Metro Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City for now as these urbanized areas can meet the storage requirements. The national government is also in talks with private firms to establish cold storage rooms and walk-in freezers.
The EUA application of AstraZeneca and Sputnik V made by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute are pending at the FDA.
The government aims to vaccinate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos this year.
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