Envoy says PH should be ready with storage for Chinese coronavirus vaccines
MANILA, Philippines—Be ready with storage facilities for coronavirus vaccines from China.
This was the message brought home by the Philippine ambassador to China, who gave an update on the development of Chinese vaccines for SARS Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and which originated from China.
At a Palace briefing on Thursday (Oct. 22), Ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said vaccine distribution would be “a challenge” as the Philippines was among “priority” recipients of Chinese vaccines.
“We have to get ready for the distribution and deployment of the vaccine,” he said. “That is why these Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been telling us that what is required really is the cold chain storage facilities around the country or certain strategic areas,” Sta. Romana said.
“The vaccines have to be handled very well before they can be deployed,” he said. If unprotected from tropical weather, vaccines could lose efficacy, he added.
With vaccine trials in China advancing to Phase 3, he said, the Philippine Embassy in Beijing continues to connect Chinese pharmaceuticals and Philippine science and health officials.
He said three to four vaccines “are now being tried in China.” One vaccine, Sta. Romana said, is near completion of Phase 3 trial “and so far the results have been fairly good.”
“There has been no report of an adverse reaction” to the vaccine, he said.
The ambassador said another Chinese vaccine is on Phase 3 trial and on “international experiment” in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. Multiple reports, however, said Brazil is holding back on accepting the Chinese vaccine.
Filipinos in the Middle East are among participants in the vaccine trials.
“This is important because the vaccines being developed in China have been tried among Chinese patients,” said Sta. Romana.
“But it is important to try it also with citizens of other countries so they’re trying it with different nationalities,” he said.
Sta. Romana also reported that authorities in China had begun using, for emergency cases, one type of coronavirus vaccine for Chinese workers on the frontline of the pandemic fight, including hospital workers, airport, seaport and Customs personnel.
Employees of pharmaceutical companies and ordinary citizens in China have also volunteered for vaccine trials, he added.
Once the trials proved to be a success, it is hoped that mass production would start “as early as November and December,” he said.
Addressing a question, Sta. Romana said while the Chinese did not impose any condition for the vaccines’ distribution, the Philippines required approval first by the Food and Drug Administration.
Asked if there has been a pledge from China setting the number of vaccine doses to be given and if these would be for free, Sta. Romana replied: “This is subject now to discussion. This is a matter that will entail more changes and discussion, so I cannot give you a definitive answer right now.”
But said the Chinese had been talking about producing vaccine doses in the hundreds of millions.
“So, a lot of it in terms of numbers will depend on their production, and I know the Chines—from all reports—have now been preparing,” Sta. Romana said.
“They’re preparing their manufacturing facilities for the mass production of vaccines the moment approval is announced,” he said.
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