DOH, FDA green-lights use of CoronaVac for senior citizens

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The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday allowed the use of CoronaVac for senior citizens, provided there is stringent evaluation of the vaccinee’s health status and exposure risk.

CoronaVac is the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a biopharmaceutical firm based in China.

The decision was arrived at upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology’s Vaccine Expert Panel that took into consideration the limited availability of vaccines and the growing need to protect seniors amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. However, the DOH and FDA emphasized that the vaccination of senior citizens using CoronaVac should strictly be preceded by careful evaluation of the person’s health status and exposure risk.

There is phase I/II safety and immunogenicity data for seniors but efficacy data is not yet sufficient to establish vaccine efficacy.

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. Vaccination should be preceded by an evaluation of the person’s health status and exposure risk to assure that benefits of vaccination outweigh risks,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said.

The DOH and FDA further stressed that while current efficacy data for Senior Citizens from Phase III trials is insufficient, the benefits of using the vaccine for this particular group outweigh its risks, and more scientific data on use for senior citizens may soon become available.

As the government expanded the vaccination program, the DOH and FDA urged the public–especially senior citizens and persons with comorbidities–to register for and participate in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program to afford themselves the added layer of protection that it can provide. Registration for free vaccination may be done by those who want to be vaccinated in their respective LGUs.

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