BOC, PNP urged to ensure no fake COVID-19 vaccines will enter PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   February 4, 2021   •   272

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to implement stringent measures to ensure that no smuggled or fake COVID-19 vaccines will enter the country’s borders.

Hontiveros made the call as she cited reports of Chinese authorities seizing over 3,000 doses of fake COVID-19 vaccines packed in saline-filled syringes, which they suspected were made with the intent to send abroad.

The senator stressed that coronavirus vaccines should pass through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make sure that these are safe for the public’s use.

“Pag hindi dumadaan ang bakuna sa FDA, walang ibang makakasigurado na ligtas ito. We need to keep watch of our borders like bloodhounds. Ni isang pekeng bakuna ay hindi dapat makalusot,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Our own authorities need to bust any plan to bring those fake vaccines onto our shores. Anyone willing to put other people in danger for quick profit should be apprehended and put behind bars,” she added.

She also urged the National Taskforce on COVID-19 (NTF) to step up its game in assuring the public of the safety of vaccines by breaking down its quality control and security measures.

“Ilatag na ang safety and quality control protocol at magdagdag ng security protocol para siguraduhing ang bawat isang dose sa milyon-milyon nating bibilhin ay walang halo at hindi peke,” she said.

“I expect the heads of law enforcement and the NTF to be on top of this. This is a grave concern of public safety and health,” she added.

Hontiveros also warned the public against getting vaccinated through the black market, and to instead trust in the national COVID-19 vaccination plan.

“Engaging in the black market is not only illegal, it is dangerous. Go through the proper government channels,” she said.

“The health and safety of Filipinos is all that matters. Let’s show the public that we are doing everything we can to vaccinate them safely and truly lead them out of the pandemic,” she added.

Customs destroys P50-million worth of smuggled cigarettes in Zamboanga

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

 

Operatives from the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Zamboanga destroyed some P50 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in a warehouse in Barangay Baliwasan.

The BOC said the smuggled cigarettes destroyed on April 13 were seized in separate operations since December 2020.

The bureau, together with representatives from different partner agencies, destroyed more than 1,278 master cases and 513 reams of cigarettes.

The seized cigarettes were crushed by payloader equipment in an outdoor yard, soaked with used oil to prevent recycling, dispersed with water by firemen, and disposed of in the sanitary landfill in Brgy. Salaan, it added.

The destruction and disposal of cigarettes is reported to be the first condemnation activity of the Port for this year.

The condemnation ceremony was witnessed by the local government unit, heads of partner law enforcement agencies, a representative from the Commission on Audit, Department of Health, and stakeholders, the BOC said.

“The immediate destruction and disposal of such contrabands was a firm directive from Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to promote transparency and remove doubts of corruption, theft, or pilferage in the agency,” it added.

Alamin: Bakit maari pa ring mahawa ang isang taong nabakunahan na laban sa COVID-19?

Marje Pelayo   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Patuloy ang paalala ng Department of Health (DOH) sa publiko maging sa mga indibidwal na nakakumpleto na ng dalawang dosage ng COVID-19 vaccines na mag-ingat dahil posible pa rin silang mahawa ng virus.

Paliwanag ng DOH, patuloy pang pinag-aaralan ang pagiging epektibo ng bakuna at wala pang sapat na ebidensya kung kailan makukuha ng isang indibidwal ang ganap na proteksyon pagkatapos na makapagpabakuna.

Ayon sa DOH at maging ng mga vaccine expert, proteksyon sa pagkakaroon ng severe case ng coronavirus disease ang maibibigay ng mga COVID-19 vaccines sa ngayon at hindi ang immunity sa pagkakahawa sa virus.

“Ang sinasabi natin, lahat ng bakuna na available ngayon for EUA ay wala silang kapasidad para mag-block ng transmission. Ibig sabihin, kahit ikaw ay bakunado na even with your second dose you can still be infected and you can still infect others,” paliwanag ni Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Sa kasalukuyan, ilang bansa gaya ng Singapore at Japan ang nakapagtala na ng mga indibidwal na nahawa pa rin sa COVID-19 ilang araw pagkatapos na mabakunahan ng bakunang Pfizer-BionTech.

Kaya naman pinag-iingat pa rin ng DOH ang mga nakakumpleto na ng two dosage ng COVID-19 vaccines at sumunod pa rin sa health protocols dahil hanggang ngayon ay patuloy pang pinag-aaralan kung kailan makukuha ng isang indibidwal na nabakunahan ang ganap na proteksyon nito sa katawan.

“Wala pang lumalabas na sufficient evidence to state how much time does these vaccines give as protection. mayroon pailan-ilang studies lumalabas up to three months up to six months pero wala pa talagang sufficient na ebidensya at wala pa ring ibinibigay na rekomendasyon ang (World Health Organization),” ayon kay Vergeire.

Ngunit paliwanag ng mga vaccine expert, kung mahahawa man ang indibidwal na naka-kumpleto na ng COVID-19 vaccine, hindi naman ito magkakaroon ng severe cases ng sakit.

Base sa evaluation ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ang bakunang CoronaVac ng Sinovac ay may 100 percent efficacy rate laban sa pagkakaroon ng severe case; 50 percent laban sa mild cases; at 83 percent sa moderate cases.

Ang bakunang AstraZeneca naman ay may 100 percent efficacy rate upang protektahan ang isang indibidwal sa pagkakaroon ng moderate to severe cases ng COVID-19.

“Again I reiterate that it may not prevent you from getting an infection but it will suddenly prevent you from severe disease and death,” concluded Dr. Ruby Pawankar, president of the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (APAAACI). MNP (sa ulat ni Harlene Delgado)

Survivors still need COVID-19 vaccine – Health Experts

Marje Pelayo   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Antibodies produced by individuals after being infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are not enough to give them protection against reinfection, according to an infectious disease expert.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the government’s vaccine expert panel, said that COVID-19 survivors have only three to four months of protection brought by antibodies that they produced and that such may decrease after the said period.

Because of this, the health expert believes that COVID-19 survivors must still undergo vaccination against the said infectious disease.

“That is the reason why even if you have recovered and you have that antibody, you need a vaccine,” said Solante.

“Because the antibody produced by the vaccine more or less will maintain a level na mas higher doon sa antibody mo na nakuha noong naka recover ka,” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) and other experts share the same recommendation.

“Kailangan pa rin magbakuna para na nabu-boost pa rin itong ang antibody production mo so you have a better immunity against this disease,” said Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“It’s very important because also we don’t know how long the antibodies will last and we don’t know the antibodies resulting from an infection was, is that being from immunization? So I would certainly recommend it,” noted Dr. Ruby Pawankar, President of the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology.

For his part, Dr. Stanley Fineman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology said the vaccine can boost a person’s immune system against the virus and it will protect him from adverse effects.

“We had patients who had COVID, they had the illness. It’s still recommended to get the vaccine. We really go by the CDC recommendation,” Fineman said.

“I think it’s basically gonna boost your immune response even more. I don’t know that people have checked their antibodies specifically, but I know a number of patients who had active COVID and go on and got their vaccines even two doses. So it’s definitely recommended here to do that,” he added.

The Philippine Orthopedic Center, meanwhile, believes that vaccination has definitely helped protect its health workers from contracting COVID-19 anew.

“I think we can say na dahil nakapag bakuna kami dati, one month ago it has protected our health care workers,” noted POC’s OIC Dr. Michael Bengzon. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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