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PH wants to ‘borrow’ AstraZeneca vaccine doses from US gov’t

CNN Philippines — The Philippines has asked the Biden administration if it could “borrow” from its stockpile of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is not approved for emergency use in the United States, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said Thursday.

We have written formally to the HHS (United States Department of Health and Human Services) and also to the White House if we could borrow some of these AstraZeneca [vaccine doses],” Romualdez told an online forum.

Millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by the British-Swedish company were sitting idly in manufacturing facilities in the US awaiting official usage approval, CNN said in a report last month.

CNN quoted White House press secretary Jen Psaki as saying America has “seven million releasable doses available of AstraZeneca,” of which over two million were lent to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada.

Last week, vaccine advisers to the US government told CNN they do not foresee AstraZeneca shots being used in America even if the firm applies for emergency use authorization and gets regulatory approval because of other available options.

Three COVID-19 vaccine candidates are approved for emergency use in the US — those made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

But the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration have recommended a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine after six recipients experienced a ”rare and severe” type of blood clot, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot is approved for restricted use in the Philippines. The country has suspended its use on persons below 60 years old after some cases of blood clotting with low platelet count were reported in Europe.

The Philippines has received 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility. Officials expressed hope additional doses may arrive next month. As of April 6, only 31,912 of the doses remain unused, according to National Task Force Against COVID-19 spokesman Ret. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

CNN Philippines asked the Department of Health about the vaccine’s latest inventory but has yet to receive a reply.