Philippines approves J&J, Bharat vaccines for emergency use

THE LOCAL Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday said it had approved the emergency use of coronavirus vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, Inc. and India’s Bharat Biotech.

The benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks, FDA Director-General Enrique D. Domingo told a televised news briefing. Both vaccines can be used for adults, he said in a mobile phone message.

Meanwhile, the Philippines would take delivery of about 20,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna, Inc. this quarter, Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez told a televised news briefing.

The first batch of Moderna vaccines would arrive by mid-June,

“It will start increasing in succeeding months,” he said of the orders. “They will complete the 20 million before the end of the year.”

Mr. Romualdez said 117,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would probably arrive in May.

The country was set to take delivery of its first batch of Pfizer doses by mid-February, but the shipment was delayed after the government failed to sign a document freeing the drug maker from potential lawsuits.

Mr. Romualdez said they expect to finalize the indemnity deal by next month.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 7,379 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 953,106. The death toll rose by 93 to 16,141, while recoveries Increased by 21,664 to 809,959, it said in a bulletin.

There were 127,006 active cases, 96.9% of which were mild, 1.3% did not show symptoms, 0.6% were critical, 0.7% were severe and 0.48% were moderate.

DoH traced the lower tally to the fact that 19 laboratories did not conduct tests on Sunday.

The Health department on April 2 reported the highest daily tally of 15,310 cases since the pandemic started last year.

The agency said 18 duplicates had been removed from the tally and 20 recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on April 19.

About 10.5 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of April 18, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 142.7 million and killed three million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 121.3 million people have recovered, it said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas