Pangilinan called on DOH to reconsider Sinovac purchases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 14, 2021   •   169

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan called on the Department of Health to reconsider its order to purchase China’s Sinovac vaccine.

In a statement, the Senator noted the results of a new study in Brazil which showed Sinovac yielding a 50.4% efficacy rate. He also noted the vaccine price is steeper compared to the other vaccines with a higher efficacy rate.

“Sinovac, with just over 50 percent efficacy, is six times more expensive than AstraZeneca, which in contrast shows a 70-percent efficacy. Sinovac is more expensive yet it has the lowest efficacy. Given these latest findings, we call on the DOH to cancel the purchase of said vaccines,” he said.

Panginilan added that the country should procure vaccines on the basis of both higher efficacy and lower cost.

Based on data, Pfizer and BioNTech has an efficacy rate 95% and cost P2,379, Gamaleya is at 92% with a P1,220 price, and AstraZeneca is at 70% costing P610. Sinovac, meanwhile, costs P3,629.50.

The Philippines has secured 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech, with the first 50,000 expected to arrive in February.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee of the Whole is scheduled to convene again on Friday, January 15, to further discuss the country’s vaccination program. -AAC

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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