Philippines lacks supply of Tocilizumab, Galvez admits
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is having difficulties in securing enough supply of Tocilizumab, a drug administered to COVID-19 patients, an official said Thursday.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said many hospitals are asking for Tocilizumab but the government cannot procure enough amounts of the medicine because of a tight global supply.
"Ito po ang medyo critical dahil kasi very ano po tayo sa Tocilizumab, talagang wala na po tayo (This is somehow critical because we really don't have Tocilizumab anymore)," Galvez said during a meeting of the government's pandemic task force last Wednesday.
"Others are saying why are we not prepared? We cannot do anything…Actually, we talked to (manufacturer) Roche and to the Swiss ambassador. We are really having difficulties in terms of production," he added.
Galvez said only one company manufactures the drug, which is also used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
"I already called the Zuellig on how the medicines can be produced but we really can't secure them because it's a global (supply issue)," he said.
"But we can talk to the Swiss ambassador so we can at least become the priority considering that we are experiencing the strongest surge in Southeast Asia."
The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has breached 40 million, Malacañang reported Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said a total of 40,030,388 doses of pandemic jabs have been injected as of September 15.
About 22.35 million persons or 28.98% of the eligible population have received their first dose while 17.68 million individuals or 22.91% have been fully vaccinated.
The government initially intended to vaccinate 70% of the country's population this year but decided to raise the target to 90 percent because of the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
Last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said the government is considering opening the COVID-19 vaccination program to the general adult population next month.
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