DOH still awaiting experts' recommendation on booster shots for Sinopharm recipients

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18)— The Department of Health (DOH) is still waiting for experts' recommendation on the COVID-19 booster brand that should be administered to those who received the Sinopharm vaccine as their primary series.

In a House briefing on Tuesday, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said officials are having a hard time coming up with a decision due to the lack of studies and data from the manufacturer itself.

"Unfortunately, we are still studying our policy and our experts are still looking [at] ano po ang booster sa (what will be the booster for) Sinopharm," Cabotaje said.

"[B]ecause there is no data available elsewhere — abroad and in the country and even from Sinopharm — ano ba ang magandang i-booster sa kanya (what will be the best booster for it)," she explained.

Cabotaje also appealed to recipients of the China-made shots for patience.

"We just ask their patience to wait until we have a final recommendation from our experts with the concurrence po ng (of the) FDA (Food and Drug Administration)," Cabotaje said.

Malacañang earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte already received his booster shot of Sinopharm — the same brand he got for his first two doses.

Asked about the matter, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles explained it was the advice of Duterte's physician. "That's under the advice of the doctor, so it's between him and the doctor," he said in his media briefing.

The chief executive received his first Sinopharm dose in May 2021, which he apologized for since the vaccine was not yet approved for emergency use by the FDA at that time. The regulatory body approved Sinopharm use in June.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.