A COVID-19 vaccine tracker by a Canada-based research university pointed out that the Philippines is one of the countries with the most number of approved vaccines against coronavirus disease.
The tracker team, led by academics at the McGill University‘s School of Population and Global Health, featured a “Vaccine Tracker Map” which lists countries where at least one vaccine has been approved by their authorities.
As of July 16, Hungary and the Philippines lead the list with each having eight vaccine brands approved for their immunization drive against COVID-19.
Next in the roster are Bangladesh, Brazil and Mexico with seven approved vaccines each.
The tracker noted that the Philippines has approved COVID-19 vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Gamaleya Institute, Johnson&Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech, Sinopharm and Sinovac so far.
Sinopharm, however, has not yet appeared on the website of the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines‘ listing of COVID-19 vaccines with emergency use authorization or EUA.
The regulatory body is the one in charge of issuing EUA for the vaccines before they are authorized to be rolled out in the public.
Last month, FDA Philippines granted an EUA for Sinopharm but it was only for the donated doses to the government at that time.
Since the COVID-19 vaccines are still under development, an EUA is issued “where there is no adequate, approved and available alternative to a vaccine for preventing COVID-19 during this present public health emergency.”
This EUA is not equal to a marketing authorization or a Certificate of Product Registration which makes it unavailable for commercial distribution.
Meanwhile, a Reddit user noticed the country’s vaccine tracker data and shared it on the Philippine community of the discussion website under “r/Philippines.”
The report was well-received by some users in the community who claimed that having more choices of vaccine increases the chance to “avert future outbreaks” of the virus.
“It is good to avert future outbreaks because when relying heavily on a few vaccine brands, there are brands that are compatible with certain variants that are prevalent. Second, to still have a stable supply when one of the manufacturers does not deliver first and to still have stable supply,” a Reddit user wrote.
Some speculated it was “probably a result of expediting the approval process.”
“Other countries are probably a bit slower in approving vaccines,” another Reddit user said.
The Department of Health reported that there are only 4,708,073 Filipinos who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of July 18.
Meanwhile, there are 10,388,188 people who have received their first dose already.
The country’s population as of 2020 is at 108 million.
Data analyst Edson Guido of ABS-CBN noted that 9.4% of the population have received full doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
He estimated that the country might reach its target of fully vaccinating 70 million individuals by October 2022 at its current pace.
The Philippines has so far received COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Gamaleya, Sinovac and AstraZeneca.
Some in the government have also received Sinopharm, including President Rodrigo Duterte.