Philippine regulator approves emergency use of AstraZeneca vaccine

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The Philippines' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca PLC's COVID-19 vaccine, the second to be approved in the Southeast Asian nation.

The known and potential benefits of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine outweighed the risks to date, FDA chief Rolando Enrique Domingo told a news conference.

AstraZeneca's vaccine was easy to transport and store and did not require ultra-cold temperatures, Domingo said.

"It also has very good protection against severe COVID-19."

The Philippines has signed deals to buy 17 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, including a private sector agreement for 2.6 million doses in November.

The initial shipment scheduled in May would not be affected by some manufacturing problems facing AstraZeneca, said Jose Concepcion, a government business adviser representing the private sector.

The Philippines' FDA has previously approved Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines from Russia's Gamaleya, China's Sinovac Biotech and India's Bharat Biotech are awaiting approval.

With more than 518,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 10,500 deaths, the Philippines has the second-highest case load in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.

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