PH FDA OKs EUA application for Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   June 7, 2021   •   259

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said it has approved the emergency use authorization application (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Chinese firm Sinopharm.

FDA director general Eric Domingo made the announcement during his report to President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised briefing on the government’s COVID-19 response.

Domingo said the EUA for Sinopharm was granted on Monday.

“Ito ay tiningnan na rin ng ating mga experts at ng atin pong evaluation sa FDA and today we already granted an emergency use authorization to DOH to accept the donations of Sinopharm,” the FDA chief said.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier filed an application for the EUA of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine after it was included in the emergency use listing (EUL) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

A WHO emergency use listing means that a product’s safety and efficacy has been rigorously evaluated. It will also allow the product to be included in the COVAX facility for faster global roll out.

The COVAX facility led by the WHO is a global program that seeks to provide vaccine supply mainly for poor countries.

The emergency use listing will also allow countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

DOH Sec. Duque, pabor na manatili sa COVID-19 Alert Level 2 ang Metro Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala si Health Secretary Francisco Duque III na dapat munang manatili sa COVID-19 Alert Level 2 ang Metro Manila sa kabila ng patuloy na pagbaba ng naitatalang panibagong kaso ng coronavirus infections.

Ayon kay Duque, ito ay dahil sa banta ng Omicron COVID-19 variant na kumakalat ngayon sa maraming bansa.

“Para sa akin, dapat siguro na tama lang na manatili muna tayo sa alert level 2. Bakit kamo? Unang-una, ang mobility pataas na naman ngayong kapaskuhan, alam natin iyan. At merong nagbabadya o banta ng Omicron variant,” ani Duque.

Ang Metro Manila ay nasa ilalim ng Alert Level 2 hanggang Disyembre 15.

Aniya, pag-uusapan ng Inter-Agency Task Force sa pagpupulong sa Huwebes kung kailan maaaring ibaba ang rehiyon sa Alert Level 1.

Kung mananatili ang alerto matapos ang Disyembre 15, sinabi ni Duque na makakatulong pa rin naman ito upang makabawi ang maraming negosyo lalo na ngayong holiday season.

“Anyway, malaki-laki na rin ng bahagi ng ekonomiya na binuksan natin under the Alert level 2 at ang mga establisymento–ang kanilang kapasidad nasa 50 percent,” ang wika ng DOH chief.

Sa ngayon ay wala pang napapaulat na kaso ng Omicron variant sa Pilipinas.

Ayon sa pamahalaan, mataman nitong binabantayan ang mga kaso ng Omicron na naitatala sa ibang bansa pati na ang mga karagdagang impormasyon ukol sa bagong variant mula sa mga eksperto.

Ayon kay acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, kabilang sa kanilang mga inaantabayanan ay ang galaw ng virus at kung gaano ito kabilis makahawa kumpara sa iba pang variant tulad ng Delta, Alpha, at Beta.

“Everyone is monitoring kung ito bang Omicron is more fatal, yun ang pinaka-aabangan natin. If it is more fatal, if it is more severe, if it is more indeed transmissible. So, we still await the final word from the WHO.

Sinabi naman ni Duque na batay sa mga nakukuha nilang inisyal na datos mula sa WHO, lumalabas na nagdudulot ng mild cases ng COVID-19 ang Omicron.

“So far sa ating pakikipagpulong sa WHO country representative Dr. Rabi Abeyasignghe, sinabi niya na lumalaki ang datos na nagpapakita na mukhang mild ang symptoms and no deaths reported as of yet patungkol sa Omicron variant pati hospitalization mukhang hindi sumisipa,” ani Duque.

Ang Omicron variant ay unang natuklasan sa South Africa. Sinasabing heavily mutated ito at may posibilidad na mas nakakahawa pa kumpara sa ibang variant ng COVID-19.

Sa ngayon, ayon sa WHO, ay patuloy pang pinag-aaralan ng mga dalubhasa ang nasabing variant, partikular na ang transmission rate nito at epekto sa ginagamit na gamot sa COVID-19 patients at mga bakuna.

PHL attains ‘substantial population immunity’, OCTA Research fellow says

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines may have already attained “substantial population immunity” to COVID-19 amid decreasing number of coronavirus infections recorded in the past few weeks, an OCTA Research fellow said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during the pre-taped public address aired late Monday, OCTA Research fellow Nicanor Austriaco said the country had the highest mobility levels in the past 20 months and experienced the lowest levels of cases and hospitalizations during the same period even with the presence of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Delta is said to be the most contagious variant of COVID-19.

“And so what these three mean together is that it suggests that we have attained substantial population immunity from natural infections and vaccinations in the urban areas of the Philippines because the pandemic has raged and spread primarily in our cities and in our first class municipalities,” Austriaco said.

“And so the fact that the virus is struggling to find new Filipinos to infect, suggests that we have attained substantial population immunity,” he added.

Comparing the Philippines with its three neighbors in Southeast Asia, Thailand and Malaysia still haven’t seen dip in cases despite having much earlier surges and the two nations are still experiencing 5,000 cases per day.

Vietnam, he said, also had a Delta peak. Unfortunately, Delta has resurged and Vietnam is still experiencing significant numbers of COVID-19 at 15,000 or so every day.

The difference, Austriaco noted, is that the Philippines had substantial waves of previous variants especially the Alpha and Beta, which struck the country in March and April of this year unlike these three other countries.

“And so combining the vaccinations and the natural immunity, what you are seeing here is that many of our cities where the pandemic tends to focus, are now stable enough to prevent transmission,” he said.

The OCTA Research fellow also advised Filipinos not to panic amid the threat posed by COVID-19 Omicron variant, and instead move with caution in celebrating the holidays.

“And so this is not the time to panic. It is the time to be careful. We have to prepare. But we also have to celebrate especially since this is Christmas,” he said.

Austriaco suggested that the country prepare its hospital infrastructure and increase healthcare workers staffing capacity, as he noted reports on nursing staff shortages in Metro Manila during the Alpha and Delta surges in the country.

The government also has to continue vaccinating and boosting the immunity of its population especially senior citizens, he added.

He likewise suggested the strengthening of population immunity around international gateways as the Omicron variant will likely enter the country through an airport.

The Omicron, which was recently classified as variant of concern by the World Health Organization, has not yet been detected in the Philippines.

“I must urge you to get vaccinated because Omicron, when it arrives in the Philippines, will find every unvaccinated Filipino. And you will get sick, and even though it is mild, it is still COVID-19,” he said.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated more than 38 million Filipinos against COVID-19.

Since March, the government has administered 91.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses – more than 56 million of this number was given as first doses.

PH gov’t eyeing to administer 7 million COVID-19 jabs in second vaccination drive

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is aiming to administer seven million COVID-19 vaccine jabs for the second round of nationwide vaccination drive, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.

The second mass immunization campaign is scheduled from December 15 to 17.

“Ang tina-target natin dito, mga 7 million para second dose, para maabot yung ating pinupuntiryang 54 million by the end of the year na bigyan ng kumpletong bakuna,” Duque said in a televised public briefing.

This target is lower than the first vaccination drive conducted last November 29 to December 1 and later extended until December 3.

The government had hoped to inoculate 9 million people during the first three-day immunization campaign. More than 10 million were vaccinated in the extended drive.

The vaccination drive was launched in a bid to scale up the country’s vaccination rate to achieve population protection against COVID-19.

So far, more than 38 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated out of the 91.7 million doses administered since the immunization was rolled out in March.

The number of individuals who have received their first dose rose to 56.7 million.

The government is aiming to fully vaccinate at least 54 million by the end of the year.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressed hope that the second vaccination drive will also be successful.

“We will have a second round of Bayanihan Bakunahan from December 15 to 17. I hope that we would have the same success. But this time lesser because parang naubos na natin ang Pilipino sa ‘yung what counts sa bakuna kaya medyo there’s a slowdown of the COVID-19,” he said.

He also expressed optimism that the Philippines will be able to overcome the pandemic amid increasing vaccination rate in the country.

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