First 50,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine allotted for health workers — Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021   •   106

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the first 50,000 doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will arrive in the country next month.

The first shipment of vaccines will be allotted for medical frontliners, Roque said.

The Palace official added that the health workers cannot choose their preferred brand of vaccine because the Sinovac shipment is the only vaccine expected to arrive in the country from February to July.

All other brands are expected to arrive in July onwards.

“Pagdating po sa Pebrero hanggang Hunyo, wala po talagang pagpipilian. Kung ayaw ninyo ng Sinovac, well hindi po kayo pipilitin,” Roque said.

 (Come February until June, there are no other brands to choose from. If you don’t want Sinovac, you will not be forced to take it.)

Una pong (The first) 50,000 will all go to health workers. Mauuna po ang priority areas na health workers na mabibigyan (Health workers in priority areas will be the first to receive the vaccine). Pero ang initial agreement po — although hindi pa po ito in a form of resolution — ay uubusin ang lahat ng healthcare workers sa Pilipinas (The initial agreement — although it is not yet in a form of a resolution— is to inoculate all healthcare workers in the Philippines) before we move on to the next sector,” he added.

Since the inoculation program of the government is free and voluntary, those who are included in the priority list who refuse to be vaccinated will have to sign a waiver, particularly the healthcare workers and senior citizens.

They will have to wait for another vaccine along with the general population, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Kung mayroong maa-identify tayong medical frontliners (If there are medical frontliners) for example, who do not wish to be vaccinated, ang mangyayari niyan is, (what will happen is) we will have them sign some sort of waiver or understanding, or a document that they understand the implications of them wavering their slot to get vaccinated,” he said.

“Magiging magulo kung magka-kanya-kanya tayo ng pili ( It would be troublesome if everyone will insist on their preferred brand), then we have to put some order in terms of the queue,” he added.

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they are willing to be vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine. It is approved by the FDA and if they are allowed to be vaccinated according to the prioritization list of the government.

“If we are included in the list of priorities, yes of course. Any type of vaccine as long as it enters the country and it has been issued EUA by the Food and Drug Administration, we are confident that it’s going to be safe and effective,” Vergeire added.

Sinovac Biotech ltd., has yet to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Philippine regulator. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

400K OFWs sent home during pandemic — DOLE

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Over 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been sent home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

As of January 16, the Labor Department records a total of 410,211 repatriates who have undergone quarantine and were cleared of COVID-19.

“After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation, and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The latest figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that 8,273 OFWs were transported to their respective provinces last week.

An estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated this year, according to reports from the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of DOLE. AAC

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)

Tuguegarao City reverts to ECQ after surge in COVID-19 cases

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The city of Tuguegarao has been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again starting January 20 until January 29.

The latest restriction came after 81 new active cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection were reported in only one day.

The new tally raised alarm among local government officials due to the continuous spike in COVID-19 cases in the city following the holiday season.

In an interview, Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano said the number of cases was manageable for the first few days of January. The number surged, however, starting January 16 thus the change in their decision.

Governor Manuel Mamba of Cagayan, meanwhile, joined Soriano in endorsing to the regional Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) the imposition of ECQ for Tuguegarao City.

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