FDA Director General Eric Domingo confirmed the approval to local media on Tuesday (April 20, 2021) as the Philippines faces third COVID-induced lockdown. Coronavirus cases have spiked five-fold in the Asian country from mid-April 2021, to a daily average of more than 10,000, from less than 2,000 in February, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Vaccine supplies crunch
Developing nations are facing a massive vaccine supply crunch. A senior Duterte official assailed developed countries for “hoarding” doses, thus depriving medium- to low-income nations of badly needed shots.
Earlier, on Monday (April 19, 2021), Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr, said the country has already completed supply contracts with five of the world’s vaccine makers — Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, and Gamaleya (Sputnik). Four (Sinovac, AZ, Sputnik and Pfizer) had already been issued EUAs by the Philippine FDA, though Galvez’ team is still working out a supply contract with Pfizer/BioNTech.
Visit to India
The Indian pharmaceutical company, Bharat Biotech — one of the world’s top vaccine makers — sought EUA from the FDA for Covaxin in January 2021. Galvez, also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, visited India in March to work out deals with Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute.
Belgium-based drugmaker Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the vaccine arm of Johnson & Johnson, filed an EUA application for its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine with the FDA on March 31. The FDA has granted an EUA to the Sputnik V vaccine of Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute in March.
Limited supply: No vaccine-making sector
The Philippines currently has no vaccine-making industry, though vaccine research is being undertaken by at least two groups. Before the end of the April, 2 million more COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the country, Galvez told a Cabinet meeting aired on the official PTV 4 channel.
“The global supply is limited but the government is doing its best to ensure that the country will have a fair share of the vaccines. The instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte is for Filipinos to be vaccinated and save more lives as we collectively surmount the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” Galvez said. It’s not immediately when orders for Covaxine and J&J vaccines will be finalised and delivered to the Philippines.
3rd in Asean
The Philippines, with about 110 million inhabitants, currently ranks third among Asean countries in the number of citizens vaccinated. The country has placed 41st out of 173 countries worldwide in the same category — and 14th among 47 Asian nations, Galvez stated in a report to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The country expects a steady supply of about 10 million to 15 million vaccine doses per month in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
• 1.5 million: number of doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac expected to be completed within April (500,000 delivered delivered on April 11; 500,000 doses to be delivered on April 22, and another 500,000 doses on April 29).
• 2 million: Number of doses Sinovac delivered to the country last February and March.
• 20,000: number of doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V expected to arrive third week of April 2021
• 480,000: number of Sputnik V doses to be delivered by end-April 2021
• 195,000: number of Pfizer vaccine doses to be delivered by end-April or early May under WHO’s Covax facility
• 4.2 million: number fresh doses expected in May (2m from Sinovac, up to 2 million from Sputnik, and 194,000 from Moderna)
• 7 to 8 million: Number of vaccine doses expected in June (4.5m doses of CoronaVac, 2m doses of Sputnik, and 1.3m doses of AstraZeneca)
• 14 million: number of vaccine doses from four vaccine manufacturers being arranged for delivery within the second quarter