FDA hopes deaths linked to COVID-19 vaccines won’t scare Filipinos

By Lisbet Esmael, CNN Philippines

The Food and Drug Administration hopes reports of deaths among the elderly in Norway after receiving COVID-19 vaccine shots will not worsen Filipinos’ vaccine hesitancy, its chief said Sunday.

While concerns were raised after over 20 died in Norway after receiving doses from US-based drugmaker Pfizer, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said he was quite optimistic the news would not further dampen vaccine confidence in the Philippines.

“I hope not,” he told CNN Philippines in a text message, when asked if the news could affect Filipinos’ trust in the vaccine.

“This shows that the vaccine recipients are being monitored closely and all events are investigated and recommendations are updated regularly,” Domingo added.

Of the 2,400 Filipino adults surveyed by Pulse Asia last Nov. 23 to Dec. 2, 47 percent said they were not willing to get vaccinated against the virus due to safety concerns.

According to a Bloomberg report, the deaths among elderly people in Norway were linked to Pfizer’s vaccine.

Quoting the Norwegian Medicines Agency, it said they “have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition.”

The government last week gave the go signal for the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first one to be granted emergency use authorization in the Philippines. Pfizer boasts that its phase 3 clinical trials showed that the vaccine was 95 percent effective in preventing infections after a person received two shots.

The country has yet to secure vaccine procurement deals with the US pharmaceutical company, but vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government expects to receive more or less 40 million doses this year.

Domingo said the FDA was still waiting for Pfizer’s reports before they decide whether to put an age cap on the recipients.

“We will wait for the report and updates from Pfizer and make any needed age cap before the vaccine is used in the Philippines,” he said.

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