Philippines clears Pfizer for kids, Sinopharm in vaccine push

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) – The Philippines has approved the use of Sinopharm Group’s coronavirus vaccine, adding to the more than 15 million doses expected to arrive in the coming weeks as the nation aims to accelerate inoculation and revive the economy.

The government also expanded to ages 12 to 15 the approval earlier given to Pfizer and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine, the Health Department said on Tuesday (June 8).

The younger population may be inoculated once supply stabilises, with the vulnerable still a priority, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a separate statement.

Sinopharm was approved for emergency use so the government can receive the state-owned company’s vaccine donations, Food and Drug Administration head Eric Domingo said on Monday evening at a weekly briefing.

The Philippines has inoculated about six million people, of which 1.5 million have received their second dose, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said.

The nation has received 9.3 million doses of vaccines and is expecting 11 million to arrive this month, including 4.5 million from Sinovac Biotech, 2.28 million from Pfizer and two million from AstraZeneca through a Covax facility and 250,000 from Moderna, Mr Galvez said.

More than five million doses could come in July and as much as 17 million in August, he said.

The Philippines has started vaccinating about 35 million workers, and is monitoring how other countries will inoculate their young population as guidance for about 29 million Filipinos in that age group, according to Mr Galvez.

The economy, which suffered a record contraction in 2020 after implementing one of the world’s longest lockdowns, is counting on vaccines to aid its rebound. It had to revert to the strictest movement curbs for two weeks starting late March as infections rose.

President Rodrigo Duterte, at the Monday briefing, urged Filipinos to make sure they are taking the second dose of the vaccines after a data showed that about half of those who had their first shot did not come back for the second one.

Mr Galvez, however, said that based on government records, only 113,000 people have so far missed their second jab.

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