Over 20 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs procured through ADB loan – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2021   •   330

MANILA, Philippines – More than 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been procured by the Philippine government through a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the DOH said that the ADB has recognized its accomplishment on the utilization of its loan under the latter’s financing project called Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit (HEAL) COVID-19 project.

The DOH said it received a rating of excellent progress in the recently concluded HEAL 1 Review Mission and HEAL 2 Inception Mission after recording over 70 percent obligation rate of its USD 825 million total loan budget intended for COVID-19 vaccine procurement and its ancillaries, equipment, infrastructure, and training.

The agency quoted in its statement Sakiko Tanaka, ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist, who said: “Within the implementation of the ADB Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 (HEAL) project, approximately 21.58 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been financed through ADB and delivered to the Philippines, and of this, 6.3 million doses have been given to priority populations as of August 2021.”

Tanaka also mentioned other achievements of the project including the procurement and delivery of 70 patient transport vehicles for contact tracing, 90 mechanical ventilators, and 85 portable x-ray machines to aid patient recovery in target Local Government Units (LGUs) and DOH-owned hospitals.

“Despite the challenges, civil works, and procurement of other medical supplies and laboratory equipment are moving forward and will be completed as planned,” she added.

The DOH said the HEAL project aims to assist the Philippines in scaling up its COVID-19 response, by providing medical equipment and supplies to health facilities that treat COVID-19 cases, and establishing pandemic subnational reference laboratories and isolation wards to strengthen testing capacity, surveillance and infection prevention and control.

The project also seeks to provide timely financing for safe and effective vaccine procurement and logistics, it added.

“I would like to thank the ADB and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank for guiding us in this journey of a very big loan,” said DOH Undersecretary Mario Villaverde.

 

24K expired AstraZeneca vaccine doses sa Western Visayas, susuriin kung maaari pang gamitin – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

Ipinapasuri na ng Department of Health (DOH)-Western Visayas kung maaari pang gamitin ang nasa 24,000 doses ng AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine na nag-expire noong November 30.

Bahagi ito ng libu-libong supply ng AstraZeneca vaccine na ipinadala sa Western Visayas noong buwan ng Oktubre.

Nasa 45,000 doses sa mga ito ang ipinadala sa Negros Occidental noong Nobyembre 8. Batay sa ulat ng provincial government, 14,920 doses pa ang natitira sa mga ito at hindi nagamit hanggang sa mag-expire noong Nobyembre 30.

Ayon kay Negros Occidental provincial administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz II, hindi ginamit ang mga nasabing bakuna dahil tumanggi umano ang mga local government unit (LGU) na tanggapin ito dahil sa nalalapit na expiration date.

“We value our vaccines. We want to use them. We do not delay, but we value more the vaccinees. We don’t want to inject vaccines that are about to expire,” ani Diaz.

Ang natitirang 10,000 doses naman ay nasa iba’t ibang lokalidad.

Ayon sa DOH regional office, ipinasasauli na nila ang mga nasabing bakuna upang masuri kung maaari pa itong gamitin.

Ayon kay Bea Camille Natalaray, ang tagapagsalita ng DOH Region 6, hihingan rin ng paliwanag ang concerned LGUs kung bakit hindi nagamit ang nasabing supply.

“Magpapasa sila ng incident report to explain bakit hindi nila na-utilize ang vaccine within the period of time. Ano ang mga factors konoconsider para next time maging part na siya ng ating mga guidelines or protocols or strategies,” ani Natalaray.

Sa ngayon ay hinihintay pa ng DOH-6 ang magiging desisyon ng central office kung dapat bang managot ang mga LGU sa pagkasira ng mga bakuna. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lalaine Moreno)

2.5 million vaccinated in day 1 of PH vaccination drive – DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2.5 million individuals were inoculated against COVID-19 on the first day of the government’s three-day nationwide vaccination drive, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.

In a public briefing, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said a total of 2,554,023 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Monday.

This is 2.5 times the daily average last week, she added.

Of the total doses, the biggest chunk was administered in Calabarzon, followed by Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and Bicol regions.

Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center, noted that the only “major challenge” they encountered in the first day of the vaccination drive were reports that some walk-ins at vaccination sites were not given the shots.

“Meron pong direktiba ang ating Presidente to vaccinate everyone… We allow walks-ins. Dapat po, walang uuwi na nakapila na hindi nabakunahan,” she said.

The government on Monday kicked off its three-day vaccination campaign, dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” program, which aims to inoculate around 9 million people.

The campaign will end on Wednesday, December 1.

The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 earlier said the vaccination drive will only be the first leg of the program, which is focused on scaling up the inoculation rate of local government units for the first vaccine dose by covering up to 70% of their target populations.

The second leg of the vaccination event will be held from December 15 to 17, which will focus on ramping up the number of fully vaccinated individuals to achieve the government’s target of fully vaccinating at least 54 million Filipinos by year-end.

PH tracing passengers who arrived from countries with Omicron cases – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it has started tracing passengers who arrived in the country from areas with local cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant.

DOH Epidemiology director, Dr. Alethea de Guzman said this is to assess them to ensure that they are not infected with the new coronavirus variant.

“Iyong mga galing sa banned countries na naunang nag-arrive ay ngayon ay tinetrace ng ating BOQ, RESUs and DILG para ma-assess sila at ma-test,” she said.

The move is in compliance to the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) for The Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the local government units (LGUs) to identify and locate passengers who arrived within 14 days prior to November 29, 2021, from countries classified as Red.

This is to require them to complete quarantine under a home quarantine set-up for 14 days from date of arrival and undergo RT-PCR if symptoms develop.

The Philippine government has recently expanded the Red List to include Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. This is in addition to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique that were earlier placed in the Red List due to the threat of Omicron, which was first detected in the region.

The Red List, which is effective from November 28 until December 15, means that travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, coming from or who have been to the Red List areas within the last 14 days prior to their arrival will not be allowed to enter the Philippines.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan flights may be allowed entry. However, they will be subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List territories.

De Guzman said authorities are now reviewing the existing protocols to address the new variant.

“Dahil nga sa pag-deklara ng Omicron as a variant of concern at ito namang Omicron na ito ay papasok hindi galing sa ating, hindi siya lalabas intransically sa Philippines pero malamang manggaling sa ibang bansa, kailangan talaga nating maglagay ng measures para ma-prevent natin, ma-delay natin as long as possible ang pagpasok ng Omicron sa ating bansa,” she said.

The Philippines has not yet recorded any case of Omicron variant based on the ongoing genome sequencing process.

The country has seen a downward trend of coronavirus infections in the past weeks.

On Monday, the Philippines logged 665 fresh COVID-19 cases, pushing the country’s total caseload to 2,832,375. This is the lowest since July 14, 2020 with 634 cases.

The country remains at low-risk classification for COVID-19.

But the DOH warned that this could spike if Omicron variant slips through the country’s borders.

The department said it has recommended to LGUs to shift back to using RT-PCR tests, instead of antigen tests to detect the presence of the Omicron variant.

“There are allegedly some tests that cannot detect kasi meron lang specific na mutations unique to Omicron na pwede lang makita ng certain RT- PCR kits,” De Guzman said.

“Ang ating mga positive samples naman ay mapapadala natin sa ating UP-Phil Genome Center at doon natin makikita kung sila ay may Omicron… Much like iyong mga may kaso ng Alpha, Beta and Delta ,kung mayroon ka ring Omicron walang pagbabago sa magiging management sa inyo ng doktor. Walang dagdag na gamot, bagong treatment. Pareho pa rin ang magiging treatment sa kanila,” she added.

De Guzman also noted that there is no clear evidence yet to say whether Omicron variant causes severe infection or if it more transmissible than other variants of concern.

“Sa ngayon, base sa mga studies, hindi natin nakikita na mas magiging apektado ang isang age group, hindi rin natin nakikita na mas magiging severe ang disease, o mas magiging mataas ang tiyansa ng pagkamatay sa mga may kaso na may Omicron variant,” she said.

“Pero dahil nakakita nga tayo ng maraming mutations dito sa variant na ito kaya itinataas natin ang pagbabantay ang ating response,” she added.

The DOH also reminded the public to take extra care as preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron for people who have previously had COVID-19, as compared to other variants of concern.

Clusters of cases in a certain area should also be monitored and submitted for sequencing to ensure that there are no new virus mutations.

The World Health Organization classified Omicron as a variant of concern last week. Several countries imposed travel restrictions amid increased detection in nations across the world.

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