First human coronavirus vaccine trials begin in UK

UNTV News   •   April 24, 2020   •   1846

Scientists in Britain began clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday (April 23) as other vaccine developers across Europe also stepped up work on experimental shots against the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Two volunteers were the first people in the world to get a potential vaccine at Oxford University as the scientist in charge of the project said she was very optimistic it would be a success.

Edward O’Neill and Elisa Granato received a shot of “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19”, while Italy’s ReiThera, Germany’s Leukocare and Belgium’s Univercells said they were working together on another potential shot and aimed to start trials in a few months.

As many as 100 potential COVID-19 candidate vaccines are now under development by biotech and research teams around the world, and at least five of these are in preliminary testing in people in what are known as Phase 1 clinical trials.

The Oxford scientists said last week that large-scale production capacity was being put in place to make millions of doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 shot, even before trials show whether it is effective.

They said on Thursday that the main focus of initial tests is “to find out if this vaccine is going to work against COVID-19, if it won’t cause unacceptable side effects and if it induces good immune responses”. Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said given the success of other vaccine projects she has worked on, she was confident that this one would also prove viable.

The race for a vaccine has been fuelled by the shortage of options for treating the disease. The European Union’s drug regulator on Thursday reiterated a warning against using two older malaria drugs outside of trials or national emergency use programmes, citing potentially lethal side effects. (Reuters)

(Production: Iain Axon and Hanna Rantala)

Phl expands coverage of travel restrictions to 7 more countries due to Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ travel restrictions to control the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant had been expanded to include seven more countries.

In a statement released Sunday (November 28), Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) added Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the red list.

Already on the red list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Nograles said.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories,” he added.

The red list or areas considered as “high-risk” for COVID-19 will be updated after December 15.

Passengers who are already in transit and all those who have been to the red list countries/territories/jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 are exempted from this restriction.

They will, however, undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day.

Nograles further said that passengers merely transiting through the red countries, will not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed at the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

However, they will still be required to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols. —/mbmf

Gov’t eyes possible return of face shield policy amid Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is mulling over the possibility of bringing back the implementation of the face shield policy following the threats from the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron (B1.1.529), said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

Galvez made the announcement on Sunday (November 28) after the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa and other European countries, causing global panic and the tightening of restrictions.

“We will look at the possibility. ‘Yan ang inaano ni (Health) Sec (Francisco) Duque. He is pro na maibalik ang any protections na pwede natin gamitin kasi some people from WHO (World Health Organization) also believe that kaya nagkaroon ng magandang result sa Delta as to others because of the protection of face shield,” said Galvez during a virtual presser with reporters.

Galvez also said that no case of Omicron variant, which is considered to be more contagious, has been reported in the country as of yet.

President Rodrigo Duterte had allowed face shields to be optional for Alert Level 3, 2, and 1 but it is still required for Alert level 5 areas. —/mbmf

Duterte calls for creation of framework for vaccine certificate recognition

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a framework for vaccine certificate recognition which will allow fully-vaccinated individuals, regardless of vaccine brand, a safe and hassle-free cross-border travel, the Presidential Communications team said Sunday (November 28).

“We need a framework on vaccine certificate recognition that is scientific, non-discriminatory, and compliant with WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines,” the President said.

The statement further said that the President’s sentiment comes after the decision of some countries, including the European Union, to only allow individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 using the four vaccines recognized by its European Medicines Agency.

“One must not withhold recognition on the basis of vaccines used when access to certain brands remain unequal,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

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