Pangilinan called on DOH to reconsider Sinovac purchases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 14, 2021   •   282

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan called on the Department of Health to reconsider its order to purchase China’s Sinovac vaccine.

In a statement, the Senator noted the results of a new study in Brazil which showed Sinovac yielding a 50.4% efficacy rate. He also noted the vaccine price is steeper compared to the other vaccines with a higher efficacy rate.

“Sinovac, with just over 50 percent efficacy, is six times more expensive than AstraZeneca, which in contrast shows a 70-percent efficacy. Sinovac is more expensive yet it has the lowest efficacy. Given these latest findings, we call on the DOH to cancel the purchase of said vaccines,” he said.

Panginilan added that the country should procure vaccines on the basis of both higher efficacy and lower cost.

Based on data, Pfizer and BioNTech has an efficacy rate 95% and cost P2,379, Gamaleya is at 92% with a P1,220 price, and AstraZeneca is at 70% costing P610. Sinovac, meanwhile, costs P3,629.50.

The Philippines has secured 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech, with the first 50,000 expected to arrive in February.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee of the Whole is scheduled to convene again on Friday, January 15, to further discuss the country’s vaccination program. -AAC

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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