Two Chinese vaccine manufacturers are planning to apply for emergency approval from local regulators for the use of their medicines in the country, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana announced Monday.
According to Sta. Romana, the emergency use authorization (EUA) applications by Sinopharm and Sinovac may likely be filed this week.
“Our embassy is in touch with these two companies of course and we tried to facilitate their contact with IATF (Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases) if there is any information that is needed,” he said during an online Palace press briefing.
“We asked them when they will file for EAU sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration) sa Pilipinas. Apparently, their plan right now, according to them, is that they hope to file in the next few days, (or) sometime this week. They will file their EUA application with the FDA in the Philippines,” he added.
China recently approved the Sinopharm vaccine for general public use. The two-dose vaccine, developed by an affiliate of state-owned Sinopharm, short name of the China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp., reportedly has 79.34 percent efficacy rate in preventing people from developing the illness.
Sta. Ana said Sinovac also has a pending application for general use in China.
“They informed us that they expect to hear from the authorities sometime this month, hopefully by the middle of January,” he added.
Sinovac is a private firm that has developed vaccines for influenza and hepatitis.
The two vaccines were earlier approved by Chinese government for emergency use in July 2020.
With the general use approval of the first COVID vaccine, Sta. Ana said China intends to inoculate around 50 million Chinese by February 5. The vaccine makers plan to produce a billion doses this year, he added.
“The reason for this is because one, it is winter here in China particularly Northern China malamig, ito iyong flu season, pneumonia season. Second, it is also Chinese New Year is the time of the year when most Chinese travel to their hometowns and so they expect a lot of travel and possibly it increases the risk ng infection of the virus,” he said.
The Filipino diplomat has yet to receive any coronavirus vaccine, saying foreigners have no access to the China-approved drug for now. But with the vaccine approval for general use, he said the vaccination is “quite possible” sometime this year. “As of now, we have not had the vaccine yet,” he added.
Sta. Romana said he met a number of Chinese businessmen who have taken the coronavirus vaccine.
He said most of these business managers and engineers involved in infrastructure projects in the Philippines are now going back to China to take the vaccine. So far, he said the vaccination results have been “pretty good.”
President Duterte earlier granted authority to the FDA director general to issue emergency use authorization for coronavirus vaccines and treatments. The emergency approval will accelerate the availability and use of such vaccines in the absence of available alternatives.
The FDA has yet to give emergency use authorization to any coronavirus vaccine in the country despite reported use of vaccines by some public officials and military personnel.