Gov’t awaits EUA, HTAC approval for procurement of bivalent vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 25) — The government is currently waiting for the authorization and approval from health experts to proceed with the procurement of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday, Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government already reached out to vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer two months ago to secure a supply of bivalent shots which contain the original virus strain and a component of the omicron variant.

Vergeire said Philippine authorities have submitted the term sheets to Moderna, as they wait for the issuance of an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, as well as inputs from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).

HTAC is an independent advisory body created under the Universal Health Care Act, with the overall role of providing guidance to health authorities.

Vergeire said the government also needs a special authority to be able to go through and finalize the negotiations.

If all requirements are met immediately, Moderna will be able deliver the supply as early as next month, she noted.

As for Pfizer, Vergeire said negotiations will now start following the signing of the confidential disclosure agreement.

Last month, health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon urged the government to prepare for the immediate rollout of bivalent vaccines in rural areas amid the spread of the immune-evasive Omicron subvariant XBB and XBC variant.

Based on latest data from the DOH, more than 73.7 million individuals or 94.38% of the target population have been vaccinated against COVID-19 while 20.8 million have already received booster shots.