Asymptomatic transmission of 2019-nCoV, other coronaviruses, unusual occurrence — WHO

Maris Federez   •   February 3, 2020   •   1058

MANILA, Philippines — The possibility of asymptomatic transmission of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is rather slim.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that during previous outbreaks due to other coronaviruses such as Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), human to human transmission occurred through droplets, contacts, and fomites, suggesting that the transmission mode of the 2019-nCoV can be similar.

This is WHO’s response to a report that a businessman in Germany contracted the virus from a Chinese national from China who had not even shown any symptoms of the disease.

After several days, three of the German businessman’s colleagues had also been reportedly tested positive of the virus.

Meanwhile, based on the protocol being implemented by the Department of Health (DOH), an individual who is not showing any symptoms of the 2019-nCoV even if he has gone to a place where the case of the virus is high does not necessarily have to undergo quarantine.

“Although we are encouraging them to still be conscious sa kanilang kalusugan. Pero sila po ay na-clear na at base sa kanilang laboratory ay negative sila sa nCoV”,  said Dr. Ferchito Avelino, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director.

Moreover, even those patients under investigation (PUI) or who had shown symptoms but yielded negative after being tested twice will be discharged and allowed to go home.

“Hanggat hindi nasatisfy yang two negative tests results saka na natin siya pwedeng paalisin”, said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

Global COVID-19 cases continue to decline, WHO says

Robie de Guzman   •   February 16, 2021

The number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases reported globally continues to decline, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

In a regular press briefing in Geneva on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the decline in global COVID-19 cases has been observed for the fifth consecutive week.

Tedros said that so far this year, the number of weekly reported cases has fallen by almost half, from more than 5 million cases in the week of January 4 to 2.6 million cases in the week starting February 8.

“This shows that simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants,” he said.

Tedros, however, stressed that what matters now is how the world will respond to this trend.

“The fire is not out, but we have reduced its size. If we stop fighting it on any front, it will come roaring back,” he said.

In the hopes of bringing the pandemic under control, Tedros said the WHO has given emergency use listing for two versions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be rolled out globally through COVAX facility.

The WHO emergency use listing assesses and assures the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and is a prerequisite for vaccines to be distributed by COVAX.

In addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, these are now the second and third vaccines to receive emergency use listing.

“We now have all the pieces in place for the rapid distribution of vaccines. But we still need to scale-up production, and we continue to call for vaccine developers to submit their dossiers to WHO for review at the same time as they submit them to regulators in high-income countries,” Tedros said.

The WHO chief emphasized that ensuring the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines is essential in saving lives and livelihoods, as well as stabilizing health systems and economies.

LGUs urged to support COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Robie de Guzman   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units (LGU) to support the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) solidarity trial for COVID-19 vaccine and other independent vaccine trials.

The DILG said that this in line with the memorandum of agreement between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and DILG on the zoning and implementation of vaccine trials where all cities in Metro Manila, including the municipality of Pateros, Davao City, and the provinces of Cebu and Cavite have been identified as areas of implementation for vaccine trials.

According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, vaccine recipients for the WHO Solidarity Trial will be recruited from the top 5 to 10 barangays with high COVID-19 cases identified by the Department of Health-Bureau of Epidemiology (DOH-EB).

Malaya stressed that coordination with LGUs, especially at the barangay level, is vital in the success of the vaccine clinical trials.

“We need the full support of our LGUs since trial sites will be at the barangay level and randomization will be by households. The household census will also be obtained from the barangays to ensure follow up,” he said in a statement.

Malaya clarified that the vaccine solidarity trials are different from the government’s vaccination program, as the trials are for candidate vaccines to test their efficacy and safety while the national vaccination program are for vaccines that are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The DILG said some 15,000 volunteers aged 18 to 59 years will be involved the country’s WHO solidarity trials, which is a global effort to evaluate the safety and efficacy of candidate vaccines which are not yet approved by the FDA.

Independent clinical trials by private vaccine companies may also be assigned trial zones to ensure equal and rational distribution to avoid competition in subject recruitment.

In Memorandum Circular No. 2021-011, DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. urged identified LGUs to provide logistic support or other non-monetary assistance needed by the project teams through transportation of potential participants to the trial sites for screening, vaccination, and scheduled follow-up visit.

LGUs are also enjoined to assist in locating participants who do not come to the trial site for the scheduled visit and bringing participants to the hospital site in the event of an exposure to or presentation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or the development of adverse reactions.

Local government units are likewise encouraged to assist, in coordination with the project team, in organizing meetings related to the clinical trials such as the orientation of potential participants.

“Inaasahan po namin ang inyong buong suporta at pakikiisa upang maging matagumpay ang mga vaccine trials sa ating bansa. Ipakita po natin ang tunay na diwa ng bayanihan sa ating patuloy na pagtugon sa pandemiyang ito,” Malaya said.

For monitoring purposes, the DILG has directed all its concerned regional offices to submit monthly situation reports regarding the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine trials in their respective areas of jurisdiction to the DILG Central Office through the Bureau of Local Government Development.

WHO laments world’s poorest countries might get left behind in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lamented that distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to the “world’s poorest countries” could face delays.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said richer countries and several private companies are buying up all the available vaccines. This also causes a spike in prices of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure—and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.

Ghebreyesus reported that 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries while only 25 have been administered in one lowest-income country.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” he noted.

WHO previously promised free COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries enlisted in the COVAX facility, which includes the Philippines.

The WHO Director General also expressed concerns that the pandemic may last longer if there is no coordination in the vaccine distribution across the globe.

“Not only does this ‘me-first’ approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating. Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” he said. AAC (with reports from Mirasol Abogadil)

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