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

Maris Federez   •   February 3, 2020   •   1151

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

Palace welcomes WHO’s emergency use listing for Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday welcomed the decision of the World Health Organization (WHO) to approve Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use listing (EUL).

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this development will strengthen the country’s vaccine portfolio.

“We welcome the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of the World Health Organization for Sinopharm. This development would strengthen our diversified vaccine portfolio as we continue to work on improving access to safe and effective vaccines, including Sinopharm,” Roque said.

A WHO emergency 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.

The Philippines has so far received more than 7.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and more are expected to arrive in the next few weeks.

“With the arrival of the bulk of our vaccine orders in the coming months, we are confident that we would be able to speed up our coronavirus vaccination program,” Roque said.

The Department of Health earlier said the emergency use authorization (EUA) application for Sinopharm vaccine is now being processed.

The Food and Drug Administration said the application’s evaluation will not take long as the product is already under the WHO emergency use listing.

Over 193,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech has been delivered in the Philippines.

The shipment arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 around 9 p.m. on Monday.

The initial batch of 193,050 doses of Pfizer vaccines was courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines will serve as a logistical run to prepare for the arrival of additional Pfizer vaccine doses, which require storage temperature conditions of -70 degrees Celsius.

The Department of Health said this batch of Pfizer vaccines would be distributed to Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, which have facilities capable of handling the product to avoid wastage.

These will be used on priority groups A1 (health workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with co-morbidities).

The government hopes to get 1.3 million more Pfizer vaccines through the COVAX facility this May.

Pfizer-BioNTech is the fourth brand of vaccine against coronavirus disease that the Philippines received since the government rolled out its immunization program on March 1. Vaccine supplies from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Institute have been delivered in the past weeks.

WHO approves Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine will now be rolled out globally after it was approved for emergency use listing (EUL), the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

In an announcement, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the EUL granted for Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine will expand the list of vaccines that the COVAX facility can provide to poor countries in need of vaccine supply.

“This expands the list of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX can buy, and gives countries confidence to expedite their own regulatory approval, and to import and administer a vaccine,” Tedros said in a briefing on May 7.

WHO’s emergency use listing is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

“The addition of this vaccine has the potential to rapidly accelerate COVID-19 vaccine access for countries seeking to protect health workers and populations at risk,” Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products said in a separate statement.

The WHO said the EUL assesses the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as risk management plans and programmatic suitability, such as cold chain requirements.

The assessment is performed by the product evaluation group, composed by regulatory experts from around the world and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), in charge of performing the risk-benefit assessment for an independent recommendation on whether a vaccine can be listed for emergency use and, if so, under which conditions, it added.

In the case of the Sinopharm vaccine, the WHO assessment included on-site inspections of the production facility, the health body said.

The Sinopharm product is an inactivated vaccine called SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell). Its easy storage requirements make it highly suitable for low-resource settings. It is the also first vaccine that will carry a vaccine vial monitor, a small sticker on the vaccine vials that change color as the vaccine is exposed to heat, letting health workers know whether the vaccine can be safely used.

This is the first vaccine developed by a non-Western country to receive WHO backing. It is also the first time the WHO has given emergency use approval to a Chinese-made vaccine for any infectious disease.

The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group.

Following the approval, the WHO recommends the vaccine for adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks.

On the basis of all available evidence, the WHO said the vaccine efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated to be 79%, all age groups combined.

The WHO, however, noted that only few older adults (over 60 years) were enrolled in clinical trials, so efficacy could not be estimated in this age group.

“Nevertheless, WHO is not recommending an upper age limit for the vaccine because preliminary data and supportive immunogenicity data suggest the vaccine is likely to have a protective effect in older persons,” it said.

“There is no theoretical reason to believe that the vaccine has a different safety profile in older and younger populations.  WHO therefore recommends that countries using the vaccine in older age groups conduct safety and effectiveness monitoring to make the recommendation more robust,” it added.

Other COVID-19 vaccines included in WHO emergency use listing are those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson& Johnson) and Moderna.

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