PH gov’t to allot 7 million COVID-19 vax booster shots for priority sectors – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   October 26, 2021   •   178

MANILA, Philippines – At least 7 million doses will be allotted for the booster shots of healthcare workers, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly against COVID-19, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday.

In a statement, Galvez said two million of these shots will be given to healthcare workers while the remaining 5 million will be allotted to individuals with co-morbidity and senior citizens.

“Sa healthcare workers, we will allot more or less 2 million doses and we have enough doses for them. Regardless of brand, mayroon po tayo na nakatabi,” he said.

“And then for the immunocompromised and elderly, we will be requiring 5 million, and we also have enough doses with the succeeding deliveries,” he added.

Galvez, who also serves as the chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, said they are now preparing for the rollout of the booster shots following the recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).

Based on HTAC’s recommendation, the booster shots should be given within the fourth quarter of the year to health workers, the elderly, and persons with health risks who received the jabs at least six months after the primary series.

The HTAC also recommended that the boosters should be based on the vaccine brands received by the individuals in the primary series.

The HTAC also pushed for the implementation of boosters for other eligible population in 2022 only if the A1 to A5 priority groups reach 50 percent in the primary series.

 The council also recommended the administration of a third vaccine shot for priority sectors.

While the government is waiting for the amendment of the Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines to be used as booster shots, as well as the review from the DOH All Experts Group, Galvez said the NTF has started to secure supplies for the said priority groups.

The administration of booster shots may begin by November depending on the month a healthcare worker or immunocompromised was vaccinated, he added.

Individuals under these categories who were vaccinated in March, April, and May will be qualified to receive the booster shots.

Galvez said around three million individuals are expected to belong to this priority group.

Solon calls for immediate EUA approval of molnupiravir

Maris Federez   •   December 9, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson Joey Salceda on Thursday called on the Food and Drug Administration for the immediate approval of the emergency use authorization of COVID-19 retrovirals like molnupiravir.

Salceda said the opening of the economy will depend on the efforts of the government to not just prevent the spread of the virus but to eventually end it.

The lawmaker noted that some medical experts believe that it is possible that the day will come when COVID-19 may just be a seasonal disease that can be treated at home.

Economic managers, Salceda said, recommend that the government must take a new approach and focus on coming up with measures to treat COVID-19 the way common flu is treated.

“Recently, the economic managers have said that the approach must now shift from pandemic to endemic. That involves a shift from mobility restrictions that try to completely prevent any infection, to an approach that treats COVID-19 as a very normal, as normal as getting a flu,” Salceda said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Still no case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in PH – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – There is still no case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in the Philippines in the latest whole genome sequencing run, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOH said that the genome sequencing conducted on Wednesday by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) on 48 samples did not detect the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant.

Of the 48 samples sequenced, 38 (79.17%) were Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases; the rest had non-VOC (variant of concern) lineages or had no lineages detected, the DOH added.

The latest sequencing run was composed of 12 returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) and 36 local cases from areas with high-risk average daily attack rates and case clusters.

“Of the additional 38 Delta variant cases, 31 were local cases and seven were ROFs,” the agency said.

“Two ROFs had travel histories from Turkey and one ROF each from Jordan, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, and Peru,” it added.

The DOH disclosed that of the 31 local cases, six had indicated addresses in Cagayan Valley Region, while five cases were from the Cordillera Administrative Region, three cases each from MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, SOCCSKSARGEN, and the National Capital Region, two cases each from Central Luzon and CALABARZON, and one case from Davao Region.

“Based on the case line list, one local case is still active, 27 local and all seven ROF cases have been tagged as recovered, and three local cases are currently being verified as to their outcomes,” it said.

“All other details are being validated by the regional and local health offices,” it added.

The additional cases of Delta variant in the country bring the total tally to 7,886.

The DOH said that additional ROF and local cases from areas with increases or clustering will be prioritized for sequencing once these samples have been received by UP-PGC.

The agency added that it is currently coordinating with COVID-19 testing laboratories to expedite transport of these samples.

The DOH reminded the public that the best defense against COVID-19 and its variants is by adhering to the minimum public health standards.

“Everyone should continue to properly wear a face mask, wash their hands often, observe physical distancing, and ensure proper ventilation. Moreover, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps prevent severe disease and death,” it said.

“LGUs are urged to continuously conduct active case finding and immediately investigate clustering of cases to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the communities,” it added.

NCR hospitals report decreasing number of COVID-19 patients

Maris Federez   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR) have reported a significant decrease in the number of patients admitted due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi).

PHAPi president Dr. Jose Rene de Grano said a number of private hospitals nationwide, particularly in Metro Manila, have reported not having COVID-19 patient confinements.

Hospitals that still have COVID-19 patients are of non-severe cases.

“Karamihan sa kanila halos kung hindi man zero, it’s less than 5 or 2 na nga lang yung iba eh. Meron din talagang zero or wala na. And yung cases nga, hindi na kagrabe katulad nung iba dati,” De Grano.

De Grano added that half of the more than 600 PHAPi member hospitals have recorded low COVID-19 admissions.

This, De Grano said, allows hospitals to focus their attention on non-COVID-19 patients.

“Yung mga private hospitals ngayon, nakaka-concentrate kami on non-COVID cases. But still, we are prepared just in case magkaroon tayo ng maraming COVID cases ulit,” he said.

“Mas nakakarelax ang ating healthcare workers, doctors and nurses. Actually, ang pino-focus nila ngayon is ang vaccination,” he added.

However, he warned hospitals not to be too complacent as there are still hospitals outside of the nation’s capital that still have COVID-19 cases.

He, nevertheless, assured that private hospitals are ready and prepared to accept COVID-19 patients, if and when warranted.

Meanwhile, government hospitals have also reported a decreasing number of COVID-19 patients admitted.

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has reported that the number of COVID-19 cases confined in the hospital has reduced to only 18, with only one patient in the intensive care unit (ICU).

NKTI executive director Dr. Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete added that the hospital now has only one health worker under quarantine.

“Ang admission namin is zero to one a day. The past weekend, zero zero eh. Yesterday, one-one. Malaking bagay na nakababa kumpara before na nag-100 plus cases kami,” Liquete said.

“Malaking bagay na ito, nakakahinga na sila. Nakakahinga na kami,” she added.

Liquete said several rooms that have been transformed into COVID-19 rooms are not back to being non-COVID rooms.

The Philippine General Hospital, as of December 5 announced that the hospital now only has 59 COVID-19 patients confined.

Despite this development, PHAPi appealed to the government to keep the country under alert level 2 until the end of the year.

The group also reminded the public to still observe minimum health protocols at all times.

“We should still be careful dahil nandiyan pa rin ang COVID. Sakaling magkaroon tayo ng pagtitipon, kung maaari siguro sa close relatives na lang o sa family na lang. At iwasan na po natin yung maraming masyadong pagtitipon ng sa gayon ay ma-enjoy natin ang ating vacation,” De Grano said.

Liquete, on the other hand, advised the public to stay away from big groups. She also called on those who are not yet vaccinated to receive their jab.

“Iwasan ang big groups, at saka for those who are not vaccinated, magpabakuna na po,” Liquete said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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