First 50,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine allotted for health workers — Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021   •   266

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the first 50,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will arrive in the country next month.

The first shipment of vaccines will be allotted for medical frontliners, Roque said.

The Palace official added that the health workers cannot choose their preferred brand of vaccine because the Sinovac shipment is the only vaccine expected to arrive in the country from February to July.

All other brands are expected to arrive in July onwards.

“Pagdating po sa Pebrero hanggang Hunyo, wala po talagang pagpipilian. Kung ayaw ninyo ng Sinovac, well hindi po kayo pipilitin,” Roque said.

 (Come February until June, there are no other brands to choose from. If you don’t want Sinovac, you will not be forced to take it.)

Una pong (The first) 50,000 will all go to health workers. Mauuna po ang priority areas na health workers na mabibigyan (Health workers in priority areas will be the first to receive the vaccine). Pero ang initial agreement po — although hindi pa po ito in a form of resolution — ay uubusin ang lahat ng healthcare workers sa Pilipinas (The initial agreement — although it is not yet in a form of a resolution— is to inoculate all healthcare workers in the Philippines) before we move on to the next sector,” he added.

Since the inoculation program of the government is free and voluntary, those who are included in the priority list who refuse to be vaccinated will have to sign a waiver, particularly the healthcare workers and senior citizens.

They will have to wait for another vaccine along with the general population, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Kung mayroong maa-identify tayong medical frontliners (If there are medical frontliners) for example, who do not wish to be vaccinated, ang mangyayari niyan is, (what will happen is) we will have them sign some sort of waiver or understanding, or a document that they understand the implications of them wavering their slot to get vaccinated,” he said.

“Magiging magulo kung magka-kanya-kanya tayo ng pili ( It would be troublesome if everyone will insist on their preferred brand), then we have to put some order in terms of the queue,” he added.

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they are willing to be vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine. It is approved by the FDA and if they are allowed to be vaccinated according to the prioritization list of the government.

“If we are included in the list of priorities, yes of course. Any type of vaccine as long as it enters the country and it has been issued EUA by the Food and Drug Administration, we are confident that it’s going to be safe and effective,” Vergeire added.

Sinovac Biotech ltd., has yet to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Philippine regulator. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Pasay City mayor open to possible city-wide ECQ to curb rising COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano on Thursday said she will not object should the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) decide to place the entire city under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

In an online media briefing, Rubiano said the city government is doing its best to contain the surge in COVID-19 cases.

She added that they have already looked into the idea of placing the city under ECQ upon learning of the detection of the more contagious COVID-19 variant, initially reported in South Africa in Pasay.

Rubiano, however, noted that placing Pasay City under ECQ will have an impact on the entire National Capital Region since the city is considered as a travel hub.

“Ang impact kasi ay nasa entire NCR dahil nakita niyo po at siyempre sa country na rin dahil nandidito po sa amin ang airport, MRT, LRT,” she said.

“Travel hub po kami at yung domestic air travel will be cancelled while international travel will be restricted,” she added.

Meanwhile, Rubiano confirmed that four residents of Pasay have tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant but all of them have already recovered.

The mayor also said that the patients were under quarantine when results of their tests came out.

“Yes po, recovered na pero inuulit po namin ang kanilang swab nang makasigurado po tayo. Na-isolate po namin agad sila pati po na-contact trace,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

AstraZeneca vaccine ‘ineffective’ if B.1.351 (South Africa) variant not contained in Phl — expert

Maris Federez   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An expert from the UP-OCTA Research on Wednesday warned that AstraZeneca vaccine offers very little protection in fighting off the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a virtual press briefing, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a fellow at the UP-OCTA Research, presented studies showing that the South Africa variant lowers the efficacy of several COVID-19 vaccines.

He particularly mentioned the United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca, saying B.1.351 variant significantly decreases the vaccine’s efficacy from 70% to mere 10%.

 “Basically, South Africa decided to abandon the AstraZeneca vaccine. It was no different than injecting water into the patients. With 10% protection, basically, most people would still be able to get mild and moderate COVID-19,” Austriaco said.

Austriaco underscored how imperative it is to eliminate the B.1.351 variant as it could be a potential stumbling block to the country’s goal of achieving herd immunity.

 “The B1.351 variant can resist the AstraZeneca vaccine. If we do not eliminate the B1.351 variant in the Philippines…the 17 million doses of AstraZeneca that we have already bought but have not yet arrived will be ineffective against fighting this particular variant from South Africa,” he said.

“If it is not controlled, if it is not eliminated from the islands, [it will be] more difficult for us to vaccinate the 75 million Filipinos in order to acquire herd immunity,” he added.

Austriaco also said that, with AstraZeneca vaccine, there is still a need for a third shot to boost the two doses that will be given to the vaccinees to ensure that they are protected from the said variant.

“We would need three doses of the remaining vaccines because you would need one booster shot just for the B.1.351 variant,” he said.

The Philippines is expected to receive an initial 487,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday from the WHO-COVAX facility. Local government units and private companies have also procured around 17 million doses through tripartite agreements.

Recent findings showed that the Philippines has recorded six cases of the South Africa variant. —/mbmf (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Demand for Sinovac vaccine surpasses supply donated by China — Sec. Galvez

Marje Pelayo   •   March 3, 2021

Boxes of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac SARS-CoV-2 vaccine being prepared for storage |Credit: Manila Public Information Office

MANILA, Philippines — Following the success of the government’s initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout, more people are showing interest in getting vaccinated.

In fact, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the number of vaccine registrants has already exceeded the available Sinovac doses donated by China.

So far, the recent rollout has been drawing positive feedback while more health workers are getting more confident in receiving the Sinovac vaccine.

“Sa ngayon namomroblema kami ni Usec. Myrna (Cabotaje) na more than 600,000 na ang tinatawag natin na distribution list natin,” he said.

But Galvez can now offer the new brand that is set to arrive.

“Pero sa awa siguro ng Dios darating na yung sa Covax Facility natin we are hoping na baka dumating na this week or next week.” he added.

The official sad the World Health Organizations (WHO) COVAX Facility has promised to send 44 million doses — four million to nine million of which is expected to be delivered in the middle of this year.

“Ang gusto ng ating mahal na presidente ay ang lahat ng ating mga mamamayan sa buong Pilipinas ay mabakunahan sa pangunguna ng ating mga healthcare workers,”  Galvez said.

“We will always protect you. At ang sinasabi nga niya walang maiiwan, walang iwanan,” he added.

Meanwhile, Taguig City is preparing to declare a more relax policy when it comes to movement of residents following the vaccination drive at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City.

Mayor Lino Cayetano said the important thing is for the public to get accustomed to proper health protocols.

Cayateno believes in the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine to prevent the entry of a more serious variant in the city.

“Ang variant na ito nagkakaroon kapag yung original na virus papasok sa tao at papasa mo ulit. So kailangan putulin natin iyon,” he said.

“Kailangan putulin natin yung transmission ng virus. That’s why the best vaccine is the one available today so we can cut transmission,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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