EUA to fast-track COVID-19 vaccine procurement, hopes for early vaccine distribution

The Palace expressed optimism that there would be an early distribution of COVID-19 vaccine here in the Philippines after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 121 granting an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.

“Nilagdaan po ng ating Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte ang Executive Order No. 121 noong Martes, a-uno ng Disyembre, kung saan binibigyan otoridad ang Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, na magbigay ng Emergency Use Authorization para sa gamot at bakuna laban sa COVID-19,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr at a press briefing on December 3.

The Palace official said that the EUA will fast-track the procurement and use of drugs and vaccine against the coronavirus, especially for vaccines that have shown positive evidence that will benefit the people.

“Kung magkakaroon ng emergency use utilization ay yung mga rehistrado sa mga foreign FDA na mga bakuna, mapapabilis po ang pag-issue ng authority to use it under EUA to 21 days. Normally po kung wala itong Executive Order na ito it will take as long as six months,” said Secretary Roque.

The Palace spokesman added that the EUA will be good for the country as it will pave the way for ending the pandemic and the return to normalcy.

“Of course, makakabuti po yan, dahil itong mga bakuna naman po hindi bibigyan ng EUA kung hindi po napatunayan sa clinical trials na ito po ay ligtas at epektibo laban po sa COVID-19. So yan po ang solusyon sa ating pandemya, ang pagkakaroon ng bakuna ng tayo po ay makabalik sa ating pong mga ordinaryong pamumuhay,” Sec. Roque said.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said in the same press briefing that once these companies have been granted approval for EUA by the United Kingdom and the United States, then they may start to apply for the same issuances in other countries as well.

Dr. Domingo said that companies that have applied and are expected to apply for Philippines’ approval like Pfizer, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Moderna, and AstraZeneca can expect a decision within 21 to 28 days.

With the issuance of EO 121, the President directed the FDA to create a panel of experts on drug and vaccine development that will conduct review of data on the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine or drug that will apply for an EUA.

The EUA is only valid within the time that the public health emergency is declared because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On another matter, Roque, who is concurrent spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force expressed satisfaction over the health protocols that are in place and are being observed in Palawan.

“Impressed naman po ako sa protocols mula po dun sa airport, kinuha po ang temperature, chineck ang sintomas, nagbigay po ng form for the contact tracing at kahit san po ako pumunta ganyan din po ang naging procedure… so mukha naman pong handa ang Palawan,” Roque said.

Palawan Governor Jose “Pepito” Alvarez said that the COVID-19 situation in the province is generally mild, with only a few active cases.

This is why the province has decided to gradually reopen to tourism, with Coron and El Nido already opened to tourists since December 1.

For Puerto Princesa, Mayor Lucilo Bayron announced that the city will start reopening their tourism industry to local tourists on December 8, clarifying that only people from Puerto Princesa will be allowed to enter or access their tourism sites at the moment.

Mayor Bayron said that they will start to open up the city to tourism slowly, starting with one tourism package—the underground river—before gradually reopening another tourism package, instead of opening the whole city all at once. (OPS-PCOO)