Philippines approves emergency use of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine as cases are getting higher and total now at 563,456

A man wearing a protective mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus walks beside a mural of health workers outside the Mission Hospital in Pasig, Philippines, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. - AP

MANILA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua): The Philippines' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the emergency use authorisation (EUA) to China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines, FDA Director General Enrique Domingo said on Monday.

"After a thorough and rigorous review of the currently available published and unpublished data by our regulatory and medical experts, the FDA is granting an emergency use authorization to the Covid-19 vaccine of Sinovac," Domingo told a televised press conference.

Domingo said the Sinovac vaccine "satisfies the conditions of emergency use authorisation." The Sinovac vaccine is a "safe" and "good option" for people with allergies, he added.

China's Sinovac Biotech is the third vaccine maker given the green light by the FDA.

The FDA also granted last month an emergency use authorization to the coronavirus vaccines made by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and those by the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca.

An emergency use authorization allows the use of a vaccine still being developed during public health emergencies.

The FDA clarifies that emergency authorization is not a marketing authorization or a certificate of product registration to sell the vaccine commercially.

The Philippine government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year, starting with health care workers, the elderly, and the poor communities.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Monday 2,288 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 563,456.

The death toll climbed to 12,094 after six more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 33 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 522,874.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 8 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will discuss with his cabinet the plan to further ease the country's coronavirus restrictions starting March 1, a move approved by his economic team to revive the pandemic-hit economy and address the country's growing joblessness.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a television interview that the quarantine level is the "main agenda item" of the cabinet meeting to be held at the presidential palace on Monday night.

Duque said the inter-agency coronavirus task force supports the move to place Metro Manila and the rest of the country to the most relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) level.

"Today, the decision to shift to MGCQ has been arrived at with the concurrence with the majority of the local government units of Metro Manila," he said, saying the country is ready to shift to a more lenient quarantine level.

Duterte is likely to announce his decision on quarantine restrictions within the week. - Xinhua
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