The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday (Feb. 9) said the emergency use authorization (EUA) of British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the Philippines remains amid the suspension of its use in South Africa’s vaccination program.
Health Underscretary and FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the strain of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country is still responsive to AstraZeneca.
South African health officials reported that AstraZeneca vaccine showed low efficacy rate against the South African variant of COVID-19.
“So far, it has no effect on us because the South African variant has not been seen here in the Philippines. Even the UK variant, we only have very few cases. This means that the circulating virus in the country still resembles the original virus used to develop the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Domingo said during the Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
“At this time, (AstraZeneca’s) EUA is still there, nothing has changed,” he added.
Domingo said the World Health Organization also wrote the FDA saying that “they still do not see any change in the indications of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but they will keep everybody updated if its efficacy on circulating virus is reduced at this time.”
Philippine health officials are still waiting for data regarding the new COVID-19 variants because the vaccine was initially developed using the predominant original variant of COVID-19, he pointed out.
“Since the development of vaccines continues, we know that vaccine manufacturers also continue their monitoring. Because if necessary, the vaccines can be revised or tweaked slightly so that it can also be responsive to newer variants,” Domingo said.
“Efficacy may decrease in the future but for now it can still be used in most infections here,” he pointed out.