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Gov’t OKs Sinopharm jab, Sputnik Light as boosters

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The Covid-19 vaccines made by Chinese manufacturer Sinopharm and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute may now be administered as booster shots, the Department of Health (DoH) announced Friday.

In a news conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the country’s regulatory board had approved the administration of the said brands as extra vaccine doses for adults, except for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

The development will give Filipinos more brand options for their boosters. Previously, only the vaccine shots manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca may be given as booster shots in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said those who received Sinopharm’s Covid vaccine as first or second doses may opt to receive the same brand as their boosters or any of the jabs made by AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer.

On the other hand, Sputnik Light — a single-dose version of the original Sputnik V — may now be used as a booster shot for those who received two-dose jabs of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and Sinovac, the health official added.

Experts have said that Sputnik Light has neutralizing antibodies against the Covid-19 Omicron variant when used as a booster shot for those inoculated with Sputnik V.

“It shows that in those previously infected but who were asymptomatic, the neutralizing antibodies versus Omicron is 87.5 percent,” said Dr. Liza Gonzales, associate dean at the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine and a member of the country’s vaccine expert panel.

“For those with mild to moderate infection following vaccination, the neutralizing antibodies is detected in 100 percent of the samples,” she added.

Based on the latest government data, the country has so far administered 125 million vaccine doses. Of these, 60 million doses were given as first jabs, 58 million were administered as second doses, and seven million were granted as boosters.

The government is seeking to increase the number of Filipinos who will get booster shots amid the persisting threat of Covid-19, noting that vaccines prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

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