DOH drops PUM, PUI; issues new classifications of COVID-19 patients

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2020   •   1962

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) will no longer use the classifications, “Patient Under Investigation (PUI)” and “Person Under Monitoring (PUM)” for persons being checked for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In an advisory issued over the weekend, the DOH said that under Administrative Order No 2020-0013, the classification of COVID-19 cases will be shifted to “suspect,” “probable,” and “confirmed.”

Under the new system, individuals who had a travel history from COVID-19 affected areas, had a close contact with a virus-infected person, and manifested symptoms such as fever, cough and sore throat but remain untested will be classified as “suspect”.

Suspect cases can also be those who are 60 years old and above, have a pre-existing condition such as heart illness, delicate pregnancy, health workers, who experienced sudden onset of lung illness with severe symptoms of unknown origin and needs hospitalization.

An individual may be considered as “probable” case of coronavirus if he or she has experienced mild, severe, or critical symptoms, was earlier tagged as “suspect,” and has still undetermined results after taking a test in an unofficial testing laboratory.

Meanwhile, patients with positive results from official testing labs will be considered “confirmed” cases.

The DOH said the use of new classification system is to establish a uniformed system of reporting based on the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Itong bagong classification ay based sa international system ayon na rin sa recommendation ng WHO. Inalign po natin ang sistema sa sistemang gingamit ng iba pang bansa upang magtugma ang ating pagre-report ng mga kaso ng COVID-19 s buong mundo

As of April 12, the Philippines has recorded 4,648 confirmed cases, with 297 fatalities and 197 total recoveries. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

IATF OKs use of Sinovac COVID-19 vax for healthcare workers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has agreed with the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) to use Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said NITAG experts have concluded that the vaccine will be beneficial and is sufficient to be used for healthcare workers despite its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% for those frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Monday, issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac but did not recommend its use for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients due to its lower efficacy rate based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

Vergeire stressed that the FDA’s recommendation on Sinovac was not a contraindication and that this does not prohibit healthcare workers from getting the Sinovac jab.

“Ultimately, the EUA of FDA establishes the safety and efficacy of Sinovac and our experts have ruled that SINOVAC’s 100% efficacy rate in preventing moderate and severe cases is indeed sufficient to meet the goal of reducing deaths — protections which we want to afford first and foremost to our healthcare workers,” she said.

Experts from NITAG also emphasized that the vaccine is safe and that they themselves are prepared to receive a shot.

“In our deliberations what we looked at it is safety to ensure the vaccine is safe that has been borne out by the review of the trials,” Dr. Marissa Alejandira, DOH-TAG member, said.

“As for myself, as a healthcare worker who sees COVID-19 patients, I am willing to take this vaccine,” Dr. Edsel Salvana, also a DOH TAG member, said.

They, however, stressed that medical frontliners will not be forced to take the shot and that they will not lose their priority status if they chose to decline the Sinovac vaccine shot.

The DOH said it is now finalizing details on how to allocate the 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses expected to arrive on Sunday, February 28. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DOH, NTF: Donated Sinovac jabs to arrive in PH over next few days but rollout on hold

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force COVID-19 (NTF) on Thursday confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines made by China drug firm Sinovac will arrive in the country over the next few days but its rollout remains on hold.

The DOH and NTF issued the clarification following reports that the 600,000 vaccine doses donated by the Chinese government will be delivered to the country on February 28, Sunday, making it the first vaccine to arrive in the Philippines.

Malacañang earlier mentioned the possibility of starting the immunization program by March 1 following the vaccines’ arrival but the DOH and the NTF said its allocation and rollout schedule is still pending.

“The Department of Health and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 jointly clarify that as of press time, specific details as to the allocation and subsequent rollout of the 600,000 donated SINOVAC doses are still being evaluated pending the official recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and its approval by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID),” the agencies said in a joint statement.

The DOH and NTF said an arrival ceremony for the vaccines will be held at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City but details of the program are still being finalized in coordination with the Chinese Embassy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday issued an emergency use authorization to Sinovac but did not recommend its use for healthcare workers frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% in clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

The FDA, however, clarified that healthcare workers may still get the Sinovac vaccine if they choose to. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

UK declines PH offer to deploy more Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom (UK) government has declined the offer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deploy more nurses to the UK in exchange for vaccines.

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said the recruitment of nurses and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are two separate issues.

“We’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses. You know those two strands of conversation I think continue but as I’ve said again we have no plans to link those two issues,” he said during a virtual conference.

DOLE Silvestre Bello III proposed forming an agreement with the UK to lift the deployment cap of healthcare workers, provided the UK would allocate vaccines for them. Bello also made the same proposal with Germany.

DOLE Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia clarified the proposal was to make sure the nurses are safe when deployed abroad and not for the country to have additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This was after the proposal drew ire for making nurses look like ‘commodities’ to be exchanged for vaccines.

“What Secretary Bello wants is to ensure that the nurse gets vaccinated if ever the request for an exemption in the cap would be granted by the President,” Francia said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Pruce said he will meet with Bello in the coming weeks to further discuss the issue. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

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