PH receives 500K more Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021   •   243

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday received another shipment of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

Around 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the government arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at past 5 p.m. It arrived via a Philippines Airlines flight.

The shipment brings the COVID-19 shots so far delivered to the country to more than 3,525,600, comprised of CoronaVac and AstraZeneca.

This is part of the commitment of Sinovac Biotech to deliver 1.5 million vaccine doses this month. The other 500,000 doses were shipped last April 11.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that about 100,000 of these vaccines will be deployed to Metro Manila and its administration will be completed within the week.

Galvez also said that another 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered on April 29.

PH to receive P505M worth of COVID-19 vaccine donation from Australia

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Australian government is donating 13.72 million AUD or P505 million worth of coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines.

The vaccines will be purchased in coordination with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said Australian Ambassador to Manila Steven Robinson on Thursday (June 17).

“This will make an important contribution to meeting the country’s vaccine needs in 2021. The Philippines will receive additional procurement and end-to-end distribution support to meet its needs under Australia’s new agreement with UNICEF to purchase safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the Philippines,” he said.

The vaccines are expected to be delivered within the year.

Aside from the anticipated donations, Robinson said Canberra has also provided Manila at least 7.52 million Australian dollars or around P277 million to boost its vaccine rollout through Australia’s Vaccine Response Plan.

Australia is the Philippines’ fourth donor country following other sponsors such as China, the United States, and Japan.

DOH eyes removal of COVID-19 testing for returning Filipinos fully vaccinated abroad

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it is planning to recommend the scrapping of the COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound travelers who have already completed their doses abroad.

The government’s task force for the COVID-19 response announced earlier it will implement a shorter quarantine period for inbound travelers who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines.

Under the revised guidelines, inbound passengers who were fully vaccinated in the Philippines will only need to undergo a seven-day quarantine period upon their arrival, and will only be required to take an RT-PCR test when they manifest COVID-19 symptoms during their quarantine period.

The new policy will take effect on June 22.

“Ganyan din po ang ating nirerekomenda for those vaccinated abroad na mga Pilipino na babalik dito,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“Pero hindi pa po natin ‘yan na naifa-finalize kasi we need means of verification of their vaccine status or vaccination cards,” she added.

Vergeire stressed that the easing of protocols for fully vaccinated individuals should be gradual until the country has reached the targeted vaccination coverage.

Ang ating mga eksperto, ang lagi naman nilang sinasabi sa atin na kahit wala kang gawing test, basta i-isolate o i-quarantine mo ang isang pasyente o isang incoming traveler, you’re good,” she said.

“But of course, we would always want to defer to testing especially if we would want to do that contact tracing and all of these things,” she added.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated two million individuals, while 5.5 million others have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sinovac still effective vs severe COVID-19 despite reported infections in Indonesia — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday maintained that available vaccines against COVID-19 are effective in preventing severe forms of infection and hospitalization, following reports that a number of healthcare workers in Indonesia still contracted the disease even after getting inoculated.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said real-world studies show that available COVID-19 vaccines, including those being used in the Philippines, are effective and that Filipinos should avoid doubting the efficacy of the jab.

“Let’s get the vaccine, let us not be doubtful… Yan pong mga bakuna ang isa sa mga susi para malabanan po natin itong pandemya,” Vergeire said in a press briefing.

Reuters on Monday reported that around 350 Indonesian healthcare workers who received Chinese-made Sinovac Biotech vaccine tested positive for the virus, dozens of them were admitted to hospitals.

But Vergeire cautioned the public in interpreting the data stated in the report.

While 350 vaccinated medical workers contracted COVID-19, she pointed out that the number could still be insignificant when compared to the total number of inoculated healthcare workers in Indonesia.

“Unang-una, kailangan very cautious tayo sa pag-i-interpret ng mga ganitong datos, kasi pag tiningnan natin, hindi ho kumpleto ang kanilang datos,” she said.

“Hindi po isinaad diyan kung meron silang control group doon sa pag-aaral na isinagawa. Pangalawa, hindi po natin alam kung ilan talaga yung healthcare workers nila diyan sa Indonesia,” she added.

Vergeire said that if Indonesia has 5,000 health workers, then 350 is just around 7 percent and the Sinovac vaccine is still 93 percent effective.

“Hindi po natin ikakaila na may breakthrough infections, that’s what you call kapag fully vaccinated ka tapos nagka-impeksyon ka, pero kailangan pa din po natin ng kumpletong datos para ma-analyze ng maigi,” she said.

The health officials also noted that vaccine developers have yet to release data on the effectiveness of their jabs against new coronavirus variants that are said to be more contagious.

Hindi pa lang po nakakapaglabas ang ibang manufacturers, katulad ng Sinovac when it comes to specific variants, kung ano ang epekto nito sa kanila but we know na because kasama na siya sa EUL (emergency use listing) [of World Health Organization], maglalabas po yan in the coming days, regarding its effectiveness against variants,” she said.

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