COVID-19 health rules in events a must but hard to enforce at times, Galvez admits

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2020   •   228

MANILA, Philippines – National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday stressed the importance of enforcing physical distancing and other health protocols at events amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, he admitted that there are times when physical distancing is difficult to impose when the crowding of people becomes uncontrollable during public events and other instances.

“I believe in some instances, like in evacuation areas and also in some programs, we cannot really dictate the situation because sometimes, the people tend to conglomerate and to really crowd themselves,” he said in a media interview.

Galvez made the remark after events attended by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Senator Manny Pacquiao were criticized for allegedly breaching health protocols.

Roque was spotted addressing a large crowd in Cebu last Friday while Pacquiao distributed relief goods to calamity-hit families in Batangas. Physical distancing was allegedly not observed in both events.

Galvez said that at times like this, they remind the people to follow health protocols prescribed by authorities to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

“We are trying to really indicate and advise our people to be very careful and observe minimum health standards,” he said.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said a fact-finding initiative will be launched into the events attended by Roque and Pacquiao for alleged violations of health protocols vs COVID-19. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Senators seek third hearing on government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators seek a third hearing to further discuss the national government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan.

The Senate Committee of the Whole may call for another public hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Senator Franklin Drilon, in a statement, said the two-day inquiry left more questions than answers.

“There are still a number of issues hanging. These too many unanswered questions raise grave concerns, for the survival of the country largely depends on our ability to implement a successful vaccination program against the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

Drilon noted that the pricing, the sourcing of the vaccines, the delivery schedules, and the logistical support plan are several of the urgent questions needed to be answered.

“We did not get any definite answers to these serious questions. I believe another round of hearing is in order. I support the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for more hearings,” he added. –AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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Roque reiterates Sinovac-PH agreement already ‘binding obligation’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Monday (January 18) reiterated that the vaccine deal between the Philippines and Sinovac is a ‘binding obligation’.

This was contrary to the statement of the Department of Finance (DOF) that the term sheet signed by the Philippines and China regarding Sinovac vaccines is not yet a done deal.

According to the DOF, the Philippines can still back out from the deal should Sinovac fails to comply with the regulatory process of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Roque said that the second obligation in the contract is the procurement of the vaccines which is subject to one of the conditions agreed upon by the parties, and that is the approval of the FDA.

“Kontrata na po yan, kaya nga lang po, yun pangalawang obligasyon, at ito po ang pagbibili ay naka-subject po sa condition na pinag-agreehan ng mga Partido. […] But that is already a binding obligation,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the vaccine experts panel of the government said the efficacy rate is not the only basis to prove that a vaccine is effective.

“Ang isa sa pinaka-importante na parameters sa isang bakuna, kapag nabakunahan ka, ma-prevent mo ba ang severe disease over mild. If this vaccine can prevent severe disease, then I would choose given that 50% efficacy rate niya,” he said.

Around 50,000 Sinovac vaccines are set to arrive by February. They will be given to health workers once the FDA approves its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Roque: Listen to vaccine experts, not social media influencers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Monday (January 18) advised the public to trust experts and not social media influencers regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

During a press briefing, Roque said it is wrong to compare vaccines to detergent soap which is an apparent reply to a tweet of comedian Vice Ganda.

Roque said there is less supply of vaccines compared to the supply of clothing detergents. He also reiterated that vaccine experts are more knowledgeable on which COVID-19 vaccines are better.

Nag-aagawan nga po tayo sa 18% na supply. Pangalawa, hindi lang naman po gagamitin para sa damit. Kaya nga po, hindi lang po isa, hindi lang po dalawa, kundi tatlong grupo pa ng mga eksperto ang magsusuri kung ang mga bakuna ay ligtas at epektibo (We are vying for 18% of [vaccine] supply. Secondly, it will not be used for clothing. Three groups of vaccine experts are reviewing which vaccines are safe and effective),” he said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz).

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