(File photo)

MANILA – Filipinos will soon have the privilege to buy the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) jabs developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Malacañang said Tuesday, after the United States’ (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its full approval to the American-made vaccine.

In an online press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the full approval of Pfizer will hasten the approval process of the Philippines’ FDA to make it available for commercial use in the country.

“Ano pong ibig sabihin nito? Well, magiging commercially available na po ang Pfizer. Now, bagama’t kinakailangan bigyan pa rin ng commercial use approval ng Philippine FDA ang Pfizer, ito po ay mapapabilis (What does it mean? Well, Pfizer will now be commercially available. Now, while the Philippine FDA still needs to grant commercial use approval, it will be done in a speedy manner),” Roque said.

Roque is optimistic that it will not take a long time for Pfizer to be available on the Philippine market.

“Kaya kaunting panahon na lang po at mabibili na sa ating mga botika ang Pfizer kung ito po ang inyong preferred brand (We only have a short period of time to be able to buy Pfizer at pharmacies if that is your preferred brand),” he said.

Pfizer vaccine, which has been initially given emergency use authorization (EUA), has received full approval from the US for people aged 16 and above. This means it is now available for commercial use.

However, the US FDA’s full approval does not cover individuals belonging to 12 to 15 age group.

Children in the US aged 12 to 15 can still have access to Pfizer vaccines through EUA.

The Philippine FDA in January this year granted an EUA allowing the administration of Pfizer vaccines among individuals 16 years old and above.

On May 26, the FDA revised the EUA granted to Pfizer to reflect the “inclusion of individuals 12 years of age and older in its indication for active immunization for the prevention of Covid-19.”

The FDA on June 8 then amended the EUA for the use of Pfizer among individuals aged 12 to 15.

No booster shots yet

Meantime, Roque reiterated that there is still no need for a Covid-19 booster shot in the country amid the prevailing pandemic.

Roque maintained that the government’s goal is to vaccinate majority of Filipinos first before giving a booster shot.

“Tandaan din po natin na wala pong booster muna ha. Marami pa po tayong mga kababayang kailangang mabakunahan (Let us remember that there is no booster shot yet. Many of our countrymen still have to get vaccinated),” he said.

He, nevertheless, ensured that the government’s proposed 2022 budget includes the allocation of around PHP45.3 billion for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine booster shots.

“Sa mga nabakunahan na, huwag naman nating i-deprive ‘yung mga hindi pa natuturukan ng Covid-19 vaccine (To those vaccinated, do not deprive those who have yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine),” Roque said. “Bakunahan natin ang lahat bago tayo mag-isip ng booster (Let’s wait for others to get vaccinated before seeking a booster shot).”

As of Monday, a total of 30,693,019 Covid-19 vaccine shots have been administered nationwide.

Around 13,197,689 people have already been fully vaccinated, while 17,495,330 have received the first dose of the vaccine.

More than 4.88 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, according to Our World in Data, a tracking website affiliated with Oxford University. (PNA)