PH gov’t facing difficulties in securing COVID-19 vaccines – FDA chief

Published April 16, 2021, 11:37 AM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

The Philippine government is having a hard time obtaining enough supply of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Friday, April 16.

(Photo by Cole Burston / AFP / FILE PHOTO)

“So far, nahihirapan pong kumuha ng supply ang gobyerno (So far, the government is having a hard time getting the supplies),” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said in an interview over TeleRadyo.

In a separate interview with reporters, the FDA chief noted that not only the Philippines is having difficulty securing the vaccines as there is a global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s a global issue,” Domingo said, adding that wealthy countries that are capable of manufacturing the vaccines have allocated most of their supply for their own citizens.

Even President Duterte admitted during his public address on April 15 that there is a shortage in the supply of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

“Itong vaccine na itong pinag-usapan natin ganito, wala sana ito kung mayroong vaccine available. Eh wala (This vaccine that we are talking about right now is like this, we would never have to discuss about this if there was a vaccine available. But there’s none),” Duterte said.

“Hanggang ngayon the word ‘unavailable’ is nandiyan. Unavailable because there are not—there’s no sufficient supply to inoculate the world (Until now the word ‘unavailable’ is there. Unavailable because there are not—there’s no sufficient supply to inoculate the world),” he added.

The President has also lamented that stocks of COVID-19 vaccines to be delivered to the country are “barely enough” to inoculate healthcare workers.

Latest government data showed that the Philippines has administered 1,255,716 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of April 13, out of the 3,025,600 vaccine doses delivered to the country.

Of the number, 64 percent or 1,093,651 people have received their first dose while 9.5 percent or 162,065 have been fully vaccinated after getting their second dose.

“Now, when will we have that stocks sufficient to vaccinate the people? I really do not know. Nobody knows,” he said.

Meanwhile, Domingo said the FDA is still evaluating the emergency use authorization (EUA) applications of India’s Bharat Biotech and Belgium-based Janssen Pharmaceuticals for their COVID-19 vaccines.

On the other hand, the FDA chief said the US-based pharmaceutical firm Moderna has yet to submit its EUA application for its COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, the FDA granted an EUA to the COVID-19 vaccines made by four vaccine developers namely: US-drugmaker Pfizer, British firm AstraZeneca, Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, and China’s Sinovac Biotech.