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FDA OKs Sinovac use for elderly

MJ Blancaflor



The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved to administer Sinovac’s anti-coronavirus vaccine on the elderly due to limited supply of shots and the recent spike in coronavirus infections.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said the health status and exposure risk of senior citizens should be evaluated before they receive the shot to assure that the “benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.”

“After considering the recommendation of the experts and the current situation of high covid 19 transmission and limited available vaccines, the FDA is allowing the use of Sinovac on senior citizens,” Domingo said.

Earlier in the day, the country’s vaccine expert panel proposed to administer Sinovac’s vaccine on the elderly since these are the doses available in the country so far.

“Sinovac has a good safety profile and the side effects only range from mild to moderate,” said Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the expert panel who is also recognized for her contributions in the field of Microbial Immunology.

She also said the panel reviewed the vaccine’s trial data which showed that it caused few adverse effects such as pain, headache, and flu-like conditions.

Gloriani also noted that China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Turkey have given the vaccine on their senior citizens.

The antibodies that the elderly produced are “almost the same” as the antibodies of 18 to 59-year-olds, Gloriani added.

At present, the Philippines only allows clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 to receive the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac, while the elderly could get doses manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine in the Philippines, the only other vaccine available apart from Sinovac, has prompted the vaccine panel to review data to determine whether the latter could be given to the elderly.

The Philippines received two million vaccine doses from Sinovac and 525,600 doses from Britain’s AstraZeneca, sourced from global vaccine-sharing pool COVAX Facility.

Additional 979,200 AstraZeneca vials from COVAX were supposed to arrive in the country last month but it was postponed due to global supply issues.

Two million doses of anti-coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute this month are likely to be shipped to the country as early as next week, authorities said.

The government is negotiating with other vaccine makers such as Moderna, Gamaleya, Pfizer-BioTech, and Novavax, but the bulk of these vaccines were expected in the third and fourth quarter of 2021.

The government is currently holding simultaneous vaccination of medical frontliners, the elderly, and persons with underlying medical conditions.

Over 922,000 have been vaccinated since the Philippines began its vaccination drive, based on the latest data available from the health department.

Of these, more than 781,000 were health workers. The rest were senior citizens and people with underlying medical conditions, who belong to the A2 and A3 priority sectors for the state’s immunization drive.

The inoculation of economic frontliners and the poor might start next month.

The coronavirus disease has so far infected 819,164 individuals and killed 14,059 people in the country.