House solons want Bicam to prioritize COVID-19 response budget in deliberation

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021   •   269

MANILA, Philippines — Several members of the House of Representatives are hoping that the deliberation in the Bicameral Conference Committee will give priority to the COVID-19 response budget which they are pushing to receive bigger funding.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said that with the threat posed by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease, the government must set a bigger budget for a pandemic response for 2022.

“Nagluwag, pero eto may pumasok na naman. Itong Omicron variant na hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang magiging extent nung pananalasa nito. Kaya dapat lang talaga yung kalakhan ng budget ay nakatuon duon sa pandemic responses,” said Zarate.

In the Senate’s approved version of the Php5.024-trillion 2022 proposed national budget, the Department of Health budget was increased to Php230.11-billion. This is higher than the approved version of the House which is Php182.67-billion.

Senators realigned the budget of other government agencies to fund the benefits and compensation of healthcare workers.

Zarate said the Bicam must make some more cuts on the budget that the Senate has approved for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) amounting to around Php10-billion from the Php4-billion that the Upper Chamber has initially allotted to the said task force.

Zarate said the budget that is to be slashed from NTF-ELCAC must be added to the funds to be used in the COVID-19 response.

House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Representative Eric Go Yap said that even if there are contradicting provisions in the two versions, they will see to it that the 2022 budget will give weight to the COVID-19 response.

“While there may be conflicting provisions between the two, rest assured that our common end goal is to submit a budget that will sustain our COVID-19 response efforts while supporting our gradual transition to full recovery,” Yap said.

The national budget is targeted to be submitted to the Office of the President before December 25 for President Rodrigo Duterte. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

PH’s first 2 Omicron deaths were unvaccinated elderlies with co-morbidities – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has reported two fatalities linked to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said the two death cases were “aged more than 60 years, unvaccinated, and had pre-existing medical conditions.”

“Both were detected during the latest whole genome sequencing,” the agency said in a message to reporters.

The two patients were from Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

These are the first reported fatalities among those infected with Omicron in the country, it added.

The DOH stressed that while the Omicron variant mostly presents with asymptomatic and mild disease, data showed that the elderly, those with comorbidities, and unvaccinated are still most at risk for fatalities.

The health department also reported that 492 more Omicron cases have been detected in the Philippines based on the latest whole genome sequencing involving 714 samples.

The newly reported Omicron cases are composed of 332 local cases and 160 returning overseas Filipinos.

The indicated addresses of the said cases were from the following areas:

  • National Capital Region with 227 cases
  • CALABARZON with 76 cases
  • Central Luzon with 11 cases
  • Central Visayas with 5 cases
  • Cagayan Valley with 2 cases
  • Western Visayas, with 2 cases
  • Davao Region with 2 cases
  • Soccsksargen with 2 cases
  • Cordillera Administrative Region with 2 cases
  • Ilocos Region with 1 case
  • MIMAROPA with 1 case
  • Bangsamoro region with 1 case

The DOH said that based on the case line list, three cases are still active, 467 cases have been tagged as recovered, while there are 20 cases whose outcomes are still being verified.

This brings the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country to 535.

ALAMIN: Magandang kumbinasyon ng COVID-19 vaccine primary at booster doses

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Target ngayon ng pamahalaan na mapalakas pa ang ginagawang COVID-19 vaccine booster administration sa gitna ng dumaraming kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa at paglitaw ng mga bagong variant.

Bagaman sinasabi ng mga dalubhasa na epektibo ang lahat ng brand ng anti-COVID-19 vaccines na available sa Pilipinas, nagbigay pa rin ng ilang rekomendasyon ang mga eksperto sa bakuna kung ano ang magandang kombinasyon ng primary dose at booster shot.

Ayon kay Infectious Disease Doctor Rontgene Solante, miyembro ng Vaccine Expert Panel, base sa pag-aaral mas mataas ang naidadagdag sa antibody level sa mga indibidwal na nakatanggap ng primary dose ng Sinovac, na nagpa-booster shot ng ibang brand gaya ng Astrazeneca, Janssen at Pfizer.

“All the heterologous regimes had spike antibody response at day 28 that were superior to homologous booster. Ang ibig sabihin nito, ‘yung nakatanggap ng Astra, Janssen and Pfizer vaccine, mas mataas yung antibody level nila kumpara doon sa nakatanggap ng sinovac as a third dose,” ani Solante.

Habang ang mga nagpabakuna naman ng AstraZeneca para sa primary dose ay magkakaroon nang mas mataas na antas ng antibody kung homologous o kaparehong brand rin ang ipina-booster shot.

“They also look at the 3rd dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were given to those who were initially received the AstraZeneca vaccine. They found out that antibody titers were significantly higher,” ani Solante.

“When the third dose was given using the homologous booster using the AstraZeneca nakita natin na it went up, mas doble,” dagdag pa niya.

Bukod dito, nakita rin umano sa mga pag-aaral na tumataas ang immune response ng isang tao na nakatanggap ng primary series ng Pfizer at Moderna, na nagpa-booster shot ng AstraZeneca.

“They got positive results from a preliminary analysis. It showed that this vaccine the variant-specific vaccine given as a third booster dose can increase immune response to Alpha, Beta and you also have against Delta and then Gamma,” ang wika ni Solante.

“The main point here is that with variant-specific vaccine, it can be protective against that variant and have cross-protection against other variants of concern,” giit pa nito.

Dagdag pa ni Solante, kahit pa man Beta variant-specific vaccine ang AstraZeneca, nakatutulong pa rin ito para pataasin ang antibody response laban sa Omicron variant.

Samantala, ayon naman kay vaccine expert Dr. Mario Jiz, magandang kombinasyon rin ang AstraZeneca bilang primary dose habang Pfizer o Moderna naman ang ikatlong dose.

“mRNA vaccines are the newer generation of vaccines so they are known to be very, very robust antibody responders so these vaccines especially si Moderna which is yung amount niya kasi is much higher compared to Pfizer eh… We really expect that mRNA vaccines will induce very high antibody levels,” ani Jiz.

Isa rin sa ipinunto ni Dr. Jiz, ang kahalagahan ng pagpapabakuna kahit primary series pa lamang upang magkaroon na kahit papaano ng proteksyon laban sa COVID-19.

Samantala, muli namang nag-paalala ang DOH at vaccine experts sa publiko na samantalahin na ang pagpapabakuna upang maiwasan ang pag-mutate ng virus, at pagkakaospital at matinding sintomas sakaling tamaan ng COVID-19.

PH detects 492 new cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has detected 492 additional cases of the more transmissible Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

In an update, the DOH said the new cases of Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant were detected in the latest batch of whole genome sequencing done last January 13 to 14, 2022 by the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The DOH said that the 492 Omicron variant cases are composed of 332 local cases and 160 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

Of the 332 local cases, the indicated addresses of the cases were from the following areas:

  • National Capital Region with 227 cases
  • CALABARZON with 76 cases
  • Central Luzon with 11 cases
  • Central Visayas with 5 cases
  • Cagayan Valley with 2 cases
  • Western Visayas, with 2 cases
  • Davao Region with 2 cases
  • Soccsksargen with 2 cases
  • Cordillera Administrative Region with 2 cases
  • Ilocos Region with 1 case
  • MIMAROPA with 1 case
  • Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 1 case

“Based on the case line list, three cases are still active, two cases have died, 467 cases have been tagged as recovered, while there are 20 cases whose outcomes are still being verified,” the DOH said.

This update brings the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country to 535.

Aside from Omicron variant cases, health authorities also detected 115 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases, and one Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant case in the 714 samples recently sequenced.

Of the additional 115 Delta variant cases, the DOH said 88 were local cases and 27 were ROFs.

Based on the case line list, two cases are still active, two have died, 107 have been tagged as recovered, while there are four cases whose outcomes are still being verified, it added.

This brings the total number of confirmed Delta variant cases in the Philippines to 8,612.

Meanwhile, the local Alpha variant case has been tagged as recovered.

The total number of Alpha variant cases is now 3,170, the DOH said.

With the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the DOH once again urged the public to follow protective health protocols and adhere to minimum public health standards.

“New protocols based on science and data such as shortened intervals for booster shots, childhood vaccination, shortened quarantine/isolation periods for fully vaccinated HCWs without symptoms, and targeted testing among others were put in place to mitigate the risks of the Omicron variant,” the agency said.

“The public is strongly encouraged to comply to ensure the safety and protection of the entire community,” it added.

The DOH also renewed its call for all eligible individuals, especially senior citizens, those with comorbidities, and children, to complete their primary series of vaccines and get boosted as these are safe, effective, and free.

“Getting vaccinated is still our best line of defense when it comes to fighting and preventing severe and critical disease. Regardless of the variant, we must always keep our guards up against the enemy that is COVID-19,” it added.

 

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