Philippines Approves Pfizer Vaccine for Emergency Use

The Philippines has approved Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine, the first to be allowed for emergency use in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Food and Drug Administration found that Pfizer’s vaccine may be effective to prevent, diagnose or treat Covid-19, and can be used for individuals age 16 years old and up, its head Eric Domingo said in a virtual briefing. The vaccine maker will provide cold storage and transport the shots to inoculation sites, he added.

Sinovac Biotech Ltd. has applied for a similar authority on Wednesday, and the regulator will ask for more clinical trial reports, Domingo said. While regulators have yet to approve the Chinese vaccine, the Philippines has said it will buy 25 million vaccine doses from Sinovac, expecting the first shipment to arrive as early as next month.

The Philippine government, along with private companies and local officials, on Thursday also signed a deal with AstraZeneca Plc. which will secure an additional 14.4 million doses. The shots are all expected to arrive within the year, said Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship. A similar deal for 2.6 million doses from AstraZeneca was signed in November.

Pfizer vaccines may be among the first to arrive in the Philippines next month through the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday. The government is also in talks with Pfizer for up to 40 million doses, Galvez said.

The Philippines, which has Southeast Asia’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak, aims to buy 148 million doses to inoculate more than half of the population in 2021. Some 82.5 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) have been allocated this year to support the vaccination plan that underpins the nation’s economic recovery.

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