Gatchalian volunteers to be inoculated with Sinovac vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021   •   332

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said he has volunteered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech in a bid to address vaccine hesitancy.

In a statement, Gatchalian said he is willing to be inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac if allowed under the government’s prioritization framework for the nationwide immunization campaign.

“Alam ko may prioritization tayo ngayon. Kung hindi naman lalabag dito, I would volunteer to be vaccinated by Sinovac. This is to show to the public our support to the vaccination program,” Gatchalian said.

The senator said he sent word to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. over the weekend of his willingness to participate in the national vaccination program.

This is also to disprove the notion that some politicians want to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice and with an efficacy rate higher than CoronaVac, he added.

“What’s more important to me is the seal of approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If it’s approved by the FDA, which went through tedious analysis prior to the grant of authorization for emergency use, I’m okay with it,” he said.

“I’m okay with any brand of anti-COVID-19 vaccine. I’m not brand conscious. I put my trust in the FDA,” he added.

The FDA earlier said that Sinovac’s CoronaVac is not recommended for healthcare workers frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its low efficacy rate of 50.4%, based on trials conducted in Brazil.

The FDA, however, clarified that health workers can still choose to receive the vaccine as it only made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.

The Philippine government on Monday rolled out its immunization program after COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.

The Department of Health said that more than 700 frontline workers, and government officials received the vaccine on the first day of immunization.

Prior to Monday’s immunization drive, a survey conducted from January 26 to February 1, 2021 by the OCTA Research Group showed that only 19% of Filipinos are willing to have themselves vaccinated while 46% would not want to be inoculated and 35% are still undecided.

Gatchalian, however, expressed optimism that the figures will change in the coming days.

“Maraming hesitant dahil bago itong vaccine. Kaya importante dito ang confidence building na dapat pangunahan ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno, well-known personalities, at kahit mga elected officials kagaya ng ginawa ni Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he said.

PH ready to handle Sputnik V vax storage requirements, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday assured that the Philippines is ready to receive and store Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Insitute.

The Philippine envoy to Russia earlier said that an initial batch of 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine is expected to arrive in the Philippines within the next few days.

An additional shipment of nearly 500,000 doses will be delivered before the end of April or early May.

Sputnik V vaccine needs to be stored at a specified temperature.

“Meron tayong handa na storage and distribution system when it comes to other vaccines that will require this kind of storage temperature,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online briefing.

“Napaghandaan na natin yan mula’t mula pa at ating inihahanda ngayon ang ating gagawin,” she added.

Unlike Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines that only require regular refrigeration temperature, Sputnik V has liquid and powder forms that have specified storage temperature requirements.

The liquid form requires storage at -18 degrees Celsius while the powdered form at the regular 2 to 8 degrees Celsius temperature.

“Itong Gamaleya vaccine, may konting technical requirement na kailangan talagang carefully maiayos natin kasi meron siyang powder form at liquid form,” Vergeire said.

“Yung liquid form may handling na specified, yung powder form may handling na specified. So ito pong lahat ay napaghandaan na,” she added.

Vergeire also said that the government’s logistics teams are currently conducting simulations to avoid any issues in receiving Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“Handa ang ating gobyerno. Handa ang ating sistema para mareceive natin ang mga ganitong bakuna with this kind of temperature storage,” she reiterated.

DICT vaccine information system aims to expedite COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has underscored the importance of the Vaccine Information and Management System (VIMS) in the government’s vaccination rollout for COVID-19.

On Wednesday (April 21), DICT Usec. Manny Caintic said VIMS aims to expedite the monitoring and tracking of the supply and distribution of vaccines throughout the country.

Caintic said health professionals can also use VIMS in monitoring vaccination centers during rollout.

Ang VIMS ay magiging single source of truth para sa lahat ng impormasyon patungkol sa pagbabakuna kontra COVID-19 (VIMS will serve as the single source of truth for all information on vaccination against COVID-19),” he said.

He also assured data privacy will be implemented and any personal information of a vaccinated individual will not be leaked.

The DICT official also said the data from LGUs is vital in VIMS.  He urged LGUs to submit requirements for VIMS to track its vaccine distribution for the vaccination information system.

The deadline given to the DICT for VIMS rollout in the National Capital Region LGUs is set until end-April, while the deadline for the VIMS in LGUs outside NCR was set until the end of May. AAC

Bulk of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries expected to arrive in PH starting June — Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government expects to receive the bulk of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries from June to August, which could speed up the country’s mass vaccination drive, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting in Malacañang on Monday, Galvez said they are expecting around 10 to 15 million vaccine doses by August.

Galvez also reported that he has secured five contracts with different drug makers and that the financing schemes are currently being ironed out.

These firms include Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, and Gamaleya Institute, he said, adding that Johnson & Johnson already received an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its Janssen COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“‘Yong Sinovac, ito ang pinaka-steady supply natin at saka po ‘yong Gamaleya. Pagka nagkaroon na tayo ng initial delivery, magiging steady na,” he said, adding he expects Moderna and AstraZeneca to also make their vaccine deliveries soon.

For this quarter, the government is eyeing to receive two million doses of COVID-19 jabs. Around 500,000 vaccine doses of these will come from Sinovac, 20,000 doses from Gamaleya and 195,000 doses from Pfizer through the COVAX facility.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said at least 20,000 doses of Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V vaccine will be delivered in the next few days.

According to Galvez, the Sputnik V vaccine doses will be a mini rollout as the Russian pharmaceutical company conducts testing in the Philippines.

Galvez also reported that once the bilateral agreements are completed, Pfizer could make an early delivery of 2.4 million doses in the second quarter.

“And then sa May mayroon tayong ini-expect na four million; two million po sa Sinovac. Ito nabayaran na po ‘to natin, mahal na President, ‘yong 3.5 million na 1.5 million sa April at saka two million sa May,” he told the Duterte.

The vaccine czar also disclosed that the Philippine government expects to sign a contract with Gamaleya on Tuesday after ordering around one to two million doses from the Russian drug manufacturer.

Galvez added that he is also looking at getting 194,000 doses from Moderna.

The Philippines has so far vaccinated over one million Filipinos against COVID-19.

Some 965,960 healthcare workers have received the first doses of the jab. There are 132,948 senior citizens and 180,315 persons with co-morbidities who also received the shot.

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