First human coronavirus vaccine trials begin in UK

UNTV News   •   April 24, 2020   •   1850

Scientists in Britain began clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday (April 23) as other vaccine developers across Europe also stepped up work on experimental shots against the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Two volunteers were the first people in the world to get a potential vaccine at Oxford University as the scientist in charge of the project said she was very optimistic it would be a success.

Edward O’Neill and Elisa Granato received a shot of “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19”, while Italy’s ReiThera, Germany’s Leukocare and Belgium’s Univercells said they were working together on another potential shot and aimed to start trials in a few months.

As many as 100 potential COVID-19 candidate vaccines are now under development by biotech and research teams around the world, and at least five of these are in preliminary testing in people in what are known as Phase 1 clinical trials.

The Oxford scientists said last week that large-scale production capacity was being put in place to make millions of doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 shot, even before trials show whether it is effective.

They said on Thursday that the main focus of initial tests is “to find out if this vaccine is going to work against COVID-19, if it won’t cause unacceptable side effects and if it induces good immune responses”. Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said given the success of other vaccine projects she has worked on, she was confident that this one would also prove viable.

The race for a vaccine has been fuelled by the shortage of options for treating the disease. The European Union’s drug regulator on Thursday reiterated a warning against using two older malaria drugs outside of trials or national emergency use programmes, citing potentially lethal side effects. (Reuters)

(Production: Iain Axon and Hanna Rantala)

COVID-19 variant Omicron not yet detected in Philippines – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Newly-discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron has not yet been detected in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said following reports about travelers from South Africa who are being quarantined in Negros Occidental.

“We are getting details on these travellers, we will provide info as soon. Just to be clear, no detection yet of Omicron, we are still processing next batch of whole genome sequences,” DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a statement.

The three foreign nationals arrived in Negros Occidental last November 26.

They are currently being quarantined in Manapla, Calatrava, and La Carlota City.

Local authorities said the foreign travelers arrived in the country on November 25 before the national government placed South Africa under the Red List due to the Omicron variant.

They have also been issued with Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-Pass) in Makati and have passed the approval of the Bureau of Quarantine in Manila.

The provincial government said the three are fully vaccinated and tested negative based on their RT-PCR test results. They will undergo re-swabbing while under quarantine.

Local officials have assured the public that the travelers are being monitored and that they will continue to intensify their measures against COVID-19.

PH administers over 5 million jabs in first 2 days of nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 5 million individuals have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the first two days of the government’s three-day vaccination campaign, an official from the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

“Ang running total natin ay 5,000,353,” DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said when asked for an update on the output of the nationwide vaccination drive, dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” program.

The campaign, which started on Monday, aims to inoculate at least nine million Filipinos until Wednesday.

“We are still hopeful na ma-meet natin iyong 9 million target. But just in case we will be unable to reach it, this record is already high,” Cabotaje said.

On the first day of the campaign, authorities were able to administer a total of 2,708,018 vaccine doses while 2,292,335 jabs were given on the second day as of 6 a.m.

Cabotaje said this number is expected to increase as more data come in.

“May nagsasabi na nakatulong ang holiday (Nov. 30) kasi they were able to go to the vaccination sites. Pero may mga feedback din na they worked because it was double-pay,” she said when asked about output on Tuesday, which was a regular holiday for Bonifacio Day.

“And there were some problems because they were not accommodated during the vaccination time. May mga bakuna centers na nagsara nang mas maaga,” she added.

The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 earlier said the vaccination drive from November 29 to December 1 will only be the first leg of the program, which is focused on scaling up the inoculation rate of local government units for the first vaccine dose by covering up to 70% of their target populations.

Another round of nationwide vaccinations will be held from December 15 to 17, which will focus on ramping up the number of fully vaccinated individuals to achieve the government’s target of fully vaccinating at least 54 million Filipinos by year-end.

The Philippines rolled out its vaccination drive against COVID-19 last March for priority sectors.

Mandatory use of face shields only when alert level goes up — DILG

Maris Federez   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The use of face shields will only become mandatory when cases of the coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) Omicron variant is already recorded in the country and the alert level system goes up from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3, said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during the weekly Talk to the Nation aired Tuesday night, Año clarified that the government does not totally disregard the use of face shield which was, in fact, integrated into the country’s alert level system in COVID-19 response.

He said while face shield use is voluntary in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3, it has remained under the discretion of the local government units under Alert Level 4, and mandatory in areas under Alert Level 5, as stated in the current Alert Level system.

“Hindi naman po natin talaga totally na-discard ‘yung face shield. In-integrate lang po natin doon sa Alert Level System na sa Alert Level 1, 2, 3 ay voluntary po; Alert Level 4, may discretion ang LGU to impose; Alert Level 5, talagang mandatory,” Año said.

The DILG chief further clarified the use of face shields in layman’s terms and likened it to an umbrella.

“Para pong ano siya eh, sa layman’s term, ‘yung face shield po parang payong. ‘Pag malakas ang ulan nagpapayong po tayo; pero ‘pag wala nang ulan, pwedeng itabi lang muna ‘yung payong. Pero ‘pag uulan o kaya nakita natin na maulap, magdadala po ng paying,” he said.

Año stressed that the use of face shields is still well within the government’s policy.

“But, of course, sir, it will change kung may makapasok na Omicron,” he said.

The DILG chief underscored the government’s readiness once the Omicron variant enters the country.

“Now, we have instituted border controls. But our border in the southeast porous, iyon ang dapat bantayan po. Kasi kung mayroong mga pumasok na mga Filipino Muslims from Sabah, from Malaysia or Indonesia at hindi po dumaan sa port or seaport, airport, eh ‘yun po ‘yung talagang kailangang mabantayan,” Año warned.

As the department’s course of action, Año said he has coordinated with the military and has given directives to the police and the coast guard to implement strict and close monitoring in the country’s borders.

“Through the PNP (Philippine National Police), Armed Forces [of the Philippines], [and the Philippine] Coast Guard, maglalabas po kami nang mas mahigpit na mga direktiba para siguradong mabantayan ‘yung mga porous borders natin,” he said. —/mbmf

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