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Big pharma lapdogs out

At this critical juncture when decisions spell the difference between life and death, the country deserves more than the current health leadership, particularly in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whose director general Eric Domingo is playing it safe by relying solely on foreign experiences.

Without looking at the local scene nor consultations with those to be affected, Domingo imposed a suspension on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine that has been the brand that the private sector is relying on to immunize their employees.

More interested in eluding responsibility and potential trouble, Domingo issued a temporary suspension on the United Kingdom-produced brand to follow in the footsteps of other countries, following reports of instances of blood clots among those who received the serum.

Without any apparent review of the local use of the drug, the FDA issued what Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneur Joey Concepcion termed as a knee-jerk reaction in suspending AstraZeneca.

Apprehension is written all over the business leader since some 11 million doses have been ordered by private firms, and the “temporary” ban will be another setback in the private sector program that will complement the slow government rollout.

Domingo has been dragging his foot on other concerns, such as reviewing the applications of alternative cures for the coronavirus disease 2019, which is now spreading faster than ever before.

The suspension will hit the expectations of a quick return to normal since 22 million to 26 million doses ordered by government and the private sector bear the AstraZeneca brand.

The supplies are coming from government orders with the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility and direct deals with local government units and businesses.

FDA’s lack of local perspective throws off the program of the business sector, which is already on its knees due to the backlash of the series of lockdowns in response to the rising cases of infections.

Concepcion said particularly that the ban covering individuals “60 years old and below” is beyond comprehension as if the FDA wanted to inflict more harm on the struggling economy.

“Most of the workforce in the private sector belong to the age group below 60, same with the LGU and other sectors, so this greatly affects a lot in our population. Vaccinating these sectors is very vital for the goal of our vaccination program. Failing to meet these goals might have a direct hit in the economy,” Concepcion noted.

The absence of a solid basis for FDA’s whim is proven by the fact that more than 500,000 individuals have been administered the AstraZeneca formula, thus, adverse effects, if there are some, should have been known by now.

Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and many others have no restrictions, except the UK which restricts ages below 30, Concepcion noted.

Shipments are expected to arrive in May that is the bulk of the vaccines, or about 2.6 million doses, which is being banked on to get the immunization program back on track.

The second batch of AstraZeneca, consisting of 14.5 million doses procured by both the private sector and the LGU, is expected to arrive toward the third and fourth quarters.

“We are expecting all of these with no delays as we need to vaccinate the country as fast as we can,” according to Concepcion.

Reasoning with Domingo seems fruitless since he has been proven hopelessly led by the collar by big pharma.

Consider that among the first to be given emergency use authorization was the Pfizer brand that has imposed impossible demands to start delivering its vaccines to poor nations.

The only Pfizer vial expected this year would likely come from the global COVAX initiative.

Beyond the Western multinational views, Domingo seems to be in limbo.

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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