MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may still get his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine using a different brand should Sinopharm fail to secure approval from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a member of the Philippine vaccine expert panel said Thursday.
Infectious disease expert and vaccine expert panel member Dr. Rontgene Solante said Duterte may be inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine as this brand is similar to Sinopharm.
Duterte was vaccinated on Monday using Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, which has yet to be granted an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
“As long as hindi pa yan [aprubado para sa] emergency use authorization, dapat hindi ibabakuna,” Solante said.
“Iyong second dose pwede niyang (Duterte) ipahabol ang Sinopharm but Sinopharm has to produce the data and submit it to VEP and FDA,” he added.
“Kung halimbawa hindi na pwede ang Sinopharm, meron naman isang bakuna na magkahawig sa Sinopharm, na nabigyan na rin ng approval natin – yung Sinovac… It is possible because they have the same platform,” he further stated.
COVID-19 vaccines made by Sinovac and Sinopharm are both whole virus vaccines that use weakened or deactivated form of the pathogen that causes COVID-19 to trigger protective immunity to it. Inactivated pathogens cannot infect cells and replicate but can trigger an immune response.
Solante said these vaccines can be stored in a standard refrigerator and are administered in two doses.
The FDA earlier said that Sinopharm’s application for EUA remains pending as firms that have filed for its emergency use in the Philippines have yet to submit requirements.
“We also stand by our policy na as long as hindi pa iyan EUA, dapat hindi ibabakuna, that is one. Pangalawa, yung Sinopharm, walang sinu-submit na mga documents sa VEP para ma-assess namin. Kung meron lang sana noon, bago nagpabakuna yung presidente, pwede naman namin i-review tapos we can also give our recommendation to the FDA,” Solante said.
Duterte earlier defended his decision to be inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine that has yet to undergo further evaluation and secure EUA from the FDA.
He apologized for using a vaccine that has not been vetted by Philippine authorities then said that he had asked China to withdraw the Sinopharm doses it donated to the Philippines.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s second Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine dose will not be returned to China so he can complete his immunization process. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)