Expert says new vaccines still effective vs new Covid strain

New vaccines will still be effective against the new strains of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a vaccine expert said on Wednesday.

“Regarding the variant, antibodies are not affected, their neutralizing activity, I just came from a meeting last night with WHO (World Health Organization) where the new variant was discussed,” Dr. Nina Gloriani,  head of the Philippines vaccine expert panel, said during a Laging Handa briefing.

Gloriani was responding to a question about the efficacy of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine, or slightly above 50 percent.

“This is not just one variant, there’s one in UK, South Africa. There are more but they are unaffected and that’s the data shown to us. So with these data, the vaccines will still be effective but we have monitoring,” she said.

The country’s vaccine expert panel performs an evaluation of candidate Covid-19 vaccines with a scoring system before they enter the Food and Drug Administration for evaluation and possible approval.

Gloriani said vaccines are evaluated according to their safety (20 percent), efficacy (10 percent), immunogenicity or its ability to produce an immune response (20 percent), and emergency use authorization (30 percent).

“Regarding safety, there are many parameters to check, there are mild, moderate and severe reactions, local, systemic. There are common reactions expected of vaccines and there are rare events, and we’ll look into all that,” she said partly in Filipino.

As for the efficacy of the vaccines, Gloriani said experts evaluate vaccines according to their ability to provide protection against mild, moderate or severe Covid-19 infection.

The track record of the manufacturing company and the storage stability are also being evaluated by the vaccine expert panel.

“We added another parameter, and this if the vaccines already have EUA (emergency use authorization) from other countries recognized by the Philippines or if they have interim data of Phase 3 clinical trials for us to check,” Gloriani said.

She said they also check the ease of deployment and dosing schedule, which they hope would just be one dose.

“At the moment, available are two doses of vaccines, so we’ll check if it will be given after a month, two months or three weeks,” she said.

The ranking of vaccines will depend on the scores they got during the evaluation and it is expected to change as their technical data are updated for evaluation, she added. CURRENTPH

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