President Duterte may receive the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech for his second dose should Sinopharm fail to secure the necessary approval from the country’s health regulators.
Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the Department of Science and Technology’s Vaccine Expert Panel (DOST-VEP), made the pronouncement on Thursday, May 6.
“Yung second dose pwede niyang ipahabol (for emergency use authorization) ang Sinopharm but Sinopharm has to produce the data and submit it to VEP and FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Kung halimbawa hindi na pwede ang Sinopharm, meron naman isang bakuna na magkahawig sa Sinopharm, na nabigyan na rin ng approval natin—yung Sinovac (He can have the second dose using the Sinopharm [vaccine], but Sinopharm has to produce the data and submit it to VEP and FDA. If for example, Sinopharm fails to get an approval, there is a vaccine similar to that, which is the Sinovac) ,” said Solante in a media forum.
Duterte got his first dose of Sinopharm vaccine on Monday, May 3. The Chinese-made vaccine has yet to secure an emergency use authorization from the Philippine FDA.
Solante said it is possible for Duterte to receive the Sinovac vaccine for his second dose since Sinovac and Sinopharm “have the same platform.”
Solante reiterated that a coronavirus vaccine should first be given an emergency use authorization before it can be used in the country. This is to ensure its safety and efficacy, he said.
“We also stand by our policy na as long as hindi pa iyan EUA, dapat hindi ibabakuna (We also stand by our policy that as long as it does not have an EUA, it should not be used for vaccination),” he said.
“Bago ang bakuna gagamitin sa tao, dapat meron approval ng VEP, approban ng FDA, tapos ang NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group) ang magbigay ng recommendation (Before a vaccine is used in humans, there must be an approval from the VEP as well as FDA approval, then the NITAG will give the recommendation),” he added.
The infectious disease expert said that the VEP is currently conducting a study of mixing vaccines.
“Sa ibang bansa ngayon pinag-aaralan na rin yung mix and match and in fact sa vaccine experts panel ginagawan na rin namin iyan ng pag-aaral kung ano yung mga bakuna na pwedeng imi-mix in the scenario na kailangan ng DOH ang input ng VEP (In other countries, they are now studying the mix and match (of vaccines) and in fact, in the vaccine experts panel—- we are also doing that by studying what are the vaccines that can be mixed in the scenario that the DOH needs the input of VEP),” he said.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo also made a similar pronouncement.
“Meron talagang mga instances for example na natrukan ka ng bakuna on first dose tapos nagka severe allergy ka, so hindi ka na pwede doon sa second dose doon, at kailangan isipin ngayon kung ano yung alternative (There are really instances for example, wherein you had severe allergy on the first dose, so you cannot get your second dose with the same vaccine brand. Now, you have to think about what the alternative is),” he said during the Laging Handa press briefing.
“So, gumagawa ng guidelines ngayon ang DOH kung paano yung interchangeability or mixing ng vaccines in case the second dose cannot be given na identical doon sa first dose (So, the DOH is now crafting guidelines when it comes to interchangeability or mixing of vaccines in case you cannot give the same vaccine for the second dose),” he added.