COVID-19

Philippine envoy to US receives Moderna vaccine

Sofia Tomacruz
Philippine envoy to US receives Moderna vaccine

DIPLOMAT. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez at a forum in Makati City on February 28, 2020.

File photo by Carmela Fonbuena

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel 'Babe' Romualdez is among key officials facilitating talks between US drug maker Moderna and the Philippine government

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez received his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Washington, making him the first Philippine diplomat to publicly announce getting vaccinated against the disease. 

“I received the first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as part of the continuous rollout of Washington DC’s phase-based vaccination program days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Romualdez said in statement on Tuesday night, January 19 (Manila time). 

The Moderna vaccine is one of the two granted emergency use approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines. The Moderna vaccine was co-developed by the pharmaceutical company and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, led by Dr Anthony Fauci. 

Romualdez is a key official facilitating talks between the Philippine government and Moderna for the possible purchase of its vaccine for Filipinos. Negotiations were said to be in their “final stages,” as Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said the Philippines may secure about 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine. 

Like Pfizer, Moderna announced promising results for its vaccine, saying it was almost 95% effective. Preliminary phase 3 trial data has also shown the vaccine to be 100% effective against preventing severe COVID-19. 

If secured by the Philippines, the Moderna vaccine will be easier to roll out compared to the Pfizer vaccine as it is compatible with the Department of Health’s storage facilities. The vaccine can remain stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days and up to 6 months at standard freezer temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Moderna has yet to apply for emergency use approval with the FDA in the Philippines, but has inquired about requirements for the authorization. It has secured similar emergency authorization from the US FDA, Canada, and European Union. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.