An official said Monday that the Philippines has lifted a suspension on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people under 60, claiming that “the benefits outweigh the risk” as the country battles record infections.
After the drug was linked to rare but severe blood clotting, it was banned in many countries.
The majority have since resumed after the European Medicines Agency emphasized the vaccine’s benefits, deeming it “safe and reliable.”
The drug regulator had recommended “special measures” for prescribing the shot to people with some chronic health conditions, according to Philippine Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire.
“We need to recall that only a very small percentage of the population is affected by adverse effects from AstraZeneca,” Vergeire told reporters.
“We will come up with guidelines on the use of AstraZeneca to include these different precautions that was stated by the Food and Drug Administration.”
So far, the Philippines has received approximately three million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, the vast majority of which came from Sinovac in China.
According to official data, it also received 525,600 AstraZeneca doses through the Covax program.
In the coming months, the country plans another three million AstraZeneca doses.
Official data indicates that over 1.2 million people, the majority of whom are health staff, have received their first dose of vaccine.
Just about 200,000 people have been completely vaccinated seven weeks after vaccinations began.
Critics also criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration for its handling of the pandemic and attempts to obtain vaccines.
Over the past three weeks, the capital and four neighboring provinces have been under lockdown in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus and decongest hospitals.
The three million vaccine doses obtained so far are a small fraction of the shots Manila has been negotiating with seven manufacturers to obtain.
The majority of the supply won’t arrive until later this year.
Last week, however, Duterte said he didn’t know when the country will have enough vaccine doses to vaccinate everyone, warning that “many more people will die.”
On Monday, the Philippines reported more than 9,600 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 945,745, with just over 16,000 deaths.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN