The government should get reformulated COVID-19 vaccines if it plans to administer booster doses in the future, infectious disease health expert Dr. Edsel Salvana said Tuesday.
“For the general population, I believe two doses is enough. Should we administer vaccine booster shots later on, I would rather get a new and improved, reformulated vaccine that is effective against the Delta variant,” Salvana said in Filipino at a news conference in Malacanang.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration also said the government plans to set up a “fill and finish” facility for COVID-19 vaccines by 2022, where the vaccines can be brought into the country in bulk for repackaging into small vials, ampoules, or syringes.
FDA director general Eric Domingo said a year after that, the country would look at manufacturing various kinds of vaccines.
Authorities have talked to manufacturers in several countries like Cuba, China, and Russia for a possible technology transfer for the facility.
The country also continues to receive COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US government, with the arrival of an additional 561,600 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech shots on Monday.
On Sunday, 2,020,590 doses of Pfizer shots which were also donated by the US through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility also arrived.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 special adviser Dr. Teodoro Herbosa announced that the majority of these vaccines will be deployed to Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Cebu, and Davao.
“We continue to catch up in those areas where we only have about 3 percent to 5 percent fully vaccinated,” Herbosa said.
“I’m really proud that we donated for the last two days more than 2 million doses that will give more than a million Filipinos full vaccination,” US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava said at the arrival of the COVAX jabs.
To date, the Philippines has received some 16 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility.
Herbosa also said senior medical and nursing students may soon sign up and become part of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout efforts as volunteer vaccinators, saying this would be key to a faster vaccine rollout.
A former special adviser of the National Task Force, Dr. Anthony Leachon, has rallied behind the call of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to purchase more Western-made COVID-19 vaccines after the local government reported low acceptability of Chinese vaccines.
He said the government would negotiate with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to obtain a supply of the single dose Sputnik Light jab.
The government has so far administered 41,414,015 doses, with 22,853,606 people receiving the first dose and 18,560,409 getting the full dose. It recorded an average daily dose of 405,669.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez said the total number of people who have been vaccinated accounts for 24.06 percent of the 70 percent of the country’s target population and 16.84 percent of the overall population.