A COVID-19 vaccine may be available in the Philippines in March following the recent developments abroad, Food and Drug Administration director-general Eric Domingo said Thursday.
Domingo made the projection at a Palace briefing a day after the UK approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use.
Domingo said there is information that the US FDA is also gearing towards the issuance of emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer and Moderna within two weeks.
"Kapag nag-apply po sila dito sa atin maaring by first few weeks of January mayroon na rin po tayong maibigay na emergency use authorization. Baka mapaaga nang kaunti, baka magkaroon ng chance na mga March ay magkaroon na ng bakuna sa Pilipinas," he said.
Asked if the availability of the vaccines in the Philippines can be as early as January, Domingo answered in the affirmative.
"Totoo po 'yan. Talagang magiging depende na lang sa production, kung mayroong mailalaan na supply para sa Pilipinas at maide-deliver agad dito sa atin para ma-distribute natin," he said.
Asked what COVID-19 vaccine brands would likely be issued an EUA in the country, Domingo surmised that these are the ones which would secure the same first in other countries.
"Ang mauuna siguro 'yung mga mayroon nang EUA [sa ibang bansa] katulad ng Pfizer, saka itong Sinovac, Sinopharm, Moderna, AstraZeneca. Ito po ay mga nag-apply na," he said. "Kapag nag-apply na po sila sa atin, within 21-28 days ay mabibigayan po natin ng desisyon kung approved or disapproved ang kanilang application."
Earlier in the day, Dr. Jaime Montoya of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) said FDA approval of a drug or vaccine can be expected in 40 days or less now that it is allowed to issue emergency use authorization (EUA).
"Yung normal na proseso, yung walang EUA, umaabot ng anim na buwan bago aprubahan," Montoya told Super Radyo dzBB. "Kung may EUA, according to FDA, puwedeng 40 days or less pa, depende kung gaano kakumpleto ang mga dokumentong isa-submit [ng developer]."
He added that the process will also be faster for drugs or vaccines that have been given EUA in other countries.
On Wednesday, Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Duterte, through Executive Order 121, has allowed the FDA to issue an EUA for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.
The Philippines is eyeing to acquire vaccines developed by the United States, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom with the government assuring that the vaccination program is still on track to be implemented by next year. — RSJ, GMA News