April 8 ------ The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday approved the use of the vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac amid a shortage in vaccine supply. However, Director-general Eric Domingo said an evaluation of the senior citizen’s health must first take place to ensure that the benefits will outweigh the risks. "After considering the recommendation of the experts and the current situation of high covid 19 transmission and limited available vaccines, the FDA is allowing the use of Sinovac on senior citizens,” he said in a statement.
In a joint statement, the Department of Health (DOH) and the FDA stressed that though the current efficacy date is insufficient, the benefits of using the vaccine outweigh the risks. The government agencies also urged the public, especially senior citizens and those with comorbidities, to get vaccinated against the illness. At present, only AstraZeneca’s vaccine is being used on senior citizens. However, various local governments are facing a shortage in the supply of the vaccine.
In late March, the Manila government temporarily stopped the vaccination of senior citizens after it ran out of AstraZeneca doses. Domingo’s announcement came after the Vaccine Development Experts Panel recommended the use of Sinovac on senior citizens. The FDA previously said it needed more data to prove that Sinovac’s vaccines were safe and effective on the elderly before they can be recommended. The DOH has fast-tracked Sinovac's submission of data to possibly allow the use of its vaccine on seniors.