PH Vaccine expert panel to recommend vaccination of COVID-19 survivors 14 days after recovery

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021   •   235

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s vaccine expert panel (VEP) is set to recommend to the Department of Health (DOH) to shorten the waiting period before a person who tested positive for COVID-19 can be vaccinated.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the Vaccine Experts Panel, said the prescribed 90-day waiting time for the vaccination of those who recovered from the disease is “too long.”

He said they will suggest to the DOH to trim down the waiting period to 14 days or two weeks, stressing that the number of days must be counted starting on the day the person is cleared of the infection.

“Why will we wait for 90 days? Now, If you get the infection and you recovered, hindi ka na mag- wait ng 90 days, you give the vaccine when you are already asymptomatic and declared recovered,” he said.

“Ang guideline ngayon sa NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group), is that from recovery, maghintay tayo 2 weeks, it’s that period of time, not 90 days we just have to do it two weeks from naka-recover ang pasyente,” he added.

Solante added that they will also recommend to the DOH for all healthcare workers who received the first doses of the vaccine but still got infected with COVID-19 be given the second dose once they totally recovered.

The DOH earlier issued Department Memorandum 2021-0157 amending earlier vaccination guidelines which state that “individuals who became COVID-19 positive after receiving the first dose of vaccine, they should not be given the 2nd dose. For standardization and effective implementation of AEFI monitoring and causality investigation, vaccination can be restarted after 90 days with a new first dose of vaccine.”

The amended provision states that “all vaccine recipients who contracted COVID-19 after the first dose may be given the second dose provided a recommended interval of 14 days from recovery or completion of treatment are met, without restarting the vaccine dose schedule.”

As an infectious disease expert, Solante explained that the body needs several days between recovery and vaccination to ensure that the drugs are effective in protecting a person against severe diseases.

“Kapag meron kang active infection, kapag binakunahan ka, your vaccine will not work because your immune system is being stressed by that infection,” he said.

He also said the vaccine can be administered when the body is “not in particular stress.”

“The vaccine will work as long as you don’t have symptoms,” he said.

Solante also disclosed on Tuesday that the vaccine experts panel already gave a recommendation on whether Sinovac BioTech’s CoronaVac vaccine can be used on the elderly.

“At this point in time, we need the vaccine for those 60 years old and above. Ang available lang Sinovac or ang AstraZeneca,” he said.

“We just finished the recommendation the other day and hopefully, pino-forward na namin sa Department of Health regarding the use of Sinovac for more than 60 years old and above,” he said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 800,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots, mostly to healthcare workers, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities since the government rolled out the immunization program last March 1.

The government is targeting to inoculate 70 million people this year but the country has so far received 2.5 million doses due to the tight supply of vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

PH COVID-19 vaccination rollout ranks third in ASEAN – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines ranks third among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the number of doses of COVID-19 vaccines that were so far administered, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Data presented by Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje on Monday showed that the Philippines has already used a total of 1,456,793 COVID-19 vaccine doses, following Indonesia with 15.8 million and Singapore with 1.6 million doses.

The information presented by Cabotaje during an online briefing was based on April 14 Bloomberg data and other reports from Foreign Service Posts.

The health official said the Philippines was able to administer many of the doses delivered despite vaccine supply problems.

“Ang ating comparison ay number of administered doses kasi that will tell us gaano karami ang nakukuha nating doses at gaano tayo kabilis magbigay ng doses,” she said.

“One million out of 100 million is about 1% of the total population, but we are targeting 70 million,” she added.

Cabotaje, however, said that the vaccination rank on data presented was not based on the number of vaccinated individuals per population.

She explained that the data shows the speed of vaccination in the country as compared to other nations.

“Yung Bloomberg na yan ang kinuha niya – the number of jabs – and then nag-supply lang tayo ng data. But we can look later kung ano ang pwedeng denominator, ano yung total population na gusto nilang bakunahan,” she said.

The Philippine government rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program on March 1 following the delivery of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

The country has so far received over 3 million COVID-19 vaccines.

More vaccine doses are expected to arrive this month including 1 million doses from Sinovac, 500,000 from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, and 194,000 doses from Pfizer.

“500,000 on April 22 and another on April 29. May indication, you know it can always change that we may have Pfizer vaccines that are arriving end of April and also Gamaleya Sputnik V, may kaunting initial… 20,000 doses,” Cabotaje said.

“In May, we are expecting another 2.5 Million of Sinovac and we are expecting the AstraZeneca from COVAX, hopefully by May or at the least very early part of June to cover iyong second dose natin,” she added.

The national government is targeting to inoculate 70 million people this year.

MMDA staff with comorbidities, elderly get COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday began the vaccination against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) of its personnel who are senior citizens and with comorbidities.

MMDA chairperson Benhur Abalos said around 200 employees belonging to the A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (with comorbidities) priority groups were administered with Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccine at the agency’s headquarters in Makati City.

Around 80 medical personnel of the MMDA were already vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday.

Abalos said the MMDA has a high infection rate among its personnel because they are among the frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.

“Kaya, humingi kami ng tulong sa DOH (Department of Health) para mabakunahan ang ating mga frontliners, lalong lalo na ang aming traffic enforcers, ang mga nasa field,” he said.

The agency is targeting to fully inoculate all its 8,000 employees.

Abalos himself received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. His initial dose was given last March 1.

The MMDA has so far recorded a total of 771 COVID-19 infections with 100 active ones. About eight personnel succumbed to the disease. – RRD (with details from Correspondent JP Nuñez)

PH vaccine experts mull mixing COVID-19 vaccine brands

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – A panel of vaccine experts in the Philippines are studying the possibility of mixing various brands of COVID-19 vaccines amid issues in global vaccine supply, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Tuesday.

Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the DOST Vaccine Experts Panel (VEP), said they are considering the matter of mixing vaccine brands due to the current scarcity of vaccine supply in the Philippines.

“That is a very practical or realistic scenario that we may be looking at with these so many vaccines that we have now,” she said during a Department of Health (DOH) press briefing.

“Di ba kulang ang ating mga COVID-19 supplies? Sometimes we have to be realistic, ano yung next na pwedeng ibigay? Hindi puwedeng i-delay too long yung second dose,” she added.

Gloriani said these COVID-19 vaccines are not comparable since they are made using different technologies but she noted that some vaccines make use of the same platforms.

“There are some of them na medyo pareho ang platform like Pfizer is messenger RNA, Moderna is messenger RNA,” she said.

“For the adeno(virusDNA approach), iyong mga vector-based vaccines so iyon ang medyo marami, sila Astrazeneca… Dadating na rin ang Gamaleya (Institute) Sputnik V,” she added, referring to the vaccine developed by a Russian company.

Gloriani said a recommendation on the matter will be released soon but she stressed that guidelines for such move should be in place.

The DOH earlier said that there is still no sufficient evidence supporting the benefits of mixing COVID-19 vaccine brands.

The agency also said that it will maintain its position that whatever brand used in the first dose should also be the same brand for the second dose.

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