Philippines hits 702K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in one day — Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2021   •   199

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has recorded its highest single-day output since the vaccination drive against COVID-19 started in March, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In a statement, Galvez said the country has administered a total of 702,013 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on August 3.

This means that the country has surpassed its goal of administering 500,000 doses daily.

Out of the 702,013 doses, 233,065 shots were administered as the first dose, while 468,948 doses were administered as the second dose, based on data from the National Vaccine Operations Center (NVOC).

Galvez assured that the government will continue to implement the “focus and expand” strategy in its deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, as the country’s vaccine supply remains insufficient for all local government units nationwide.

While vaccine supplies from different manufacturers and sources continue to arrive in bulk, the country’s vaccine inventory is still not enough to inoculate the target population of 70.8 million Filipinos, he added.

“In order to meet the monthly demand and increase the capacities of all regions, provinces, and districts, the Philippines needs at least 25 million doses monthly,” said Galvez.

In July, the country received 16.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the biggest shipment made in a single month since the start of the vaccine rollout in March.

Galvez stressed that the prioritization of areas, as well as the implementation of a phased vaccination program, is necessary to ensure the immediate protection of the nation’s highly vulnerable sectors, particularly the A1 (healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities) groups.

Under the phased vaccination program, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 will determine the vaccine allocation per region or province based on the following:

  • The master lists of eligible population submitted by a local government unit
  • The health, economic, social, and security risk of a locality
  • The population density of an area
  • The capacity of an LGU to receive and administer the vaccines
  • The availability of vaccine supplies in the national inventory

“We conducted a risk assessment for our vaccine allocation. Our focus on deployment are areas in the NCR+10 and those with confirmed cases of the Delta variant,” he said.

Galvez likewise acknowledged that the government faces challenges in the vaccination of the A2 group, particularly those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

“This is the reason why we allocated the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to these areas to increase the vaccination output and thankfully we are seeing progress,” he said.

Galvez said that the NTF and the NVOC will also give provinces the flexibility to determine the allocation for their respective cities and municipalities through their Regional Vaccination Operations Center.

“The allocation lists are being deliberated by NVOC and these are submitted to me and Secretary Vince [Dizon] for evaluation to ensure that the distribution will be based on the master list of priority sectors A1 to A3 since kulang na kulang pa ang supply,” he said.

“Our focus now is to ensure that we will have more vaccines this month and in the months ahead,” he added.

PH gov’t intensifying readiness vs terror threat amid Japan warning – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday assured that the military and police forces are intensifying their readiness against any possible threat to national security.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance following the advisory issued by the government of Japan for its residents to avoid crowded areas and religious ins six Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa impormasyon. Pero lalo lang po nating pinaiigting ang ating kahandaan para po harapin ang posibleng terroristic attack muli,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

The Palace official said state forces have been on heightened alert since the Marawi siege happened in 2017.

Roque, however, urged the public to be vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious individuals and activities in their areas.

“Nakahanda naman po ang ating kapulisan at ang ating Hukbong Sandatahan at hinihiling din atin ang kooperasyon ng ating mga mamamayan. I-report po ninyo sa kapulisan kung mayroon kayong kaduda-dudang mga personalidad o di naman kaya mga kadudang mga bagay-bagay lalo na sa mga pampublikong lugar,” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police earlier said they have not monitored any terror threat but are working to validate the information.

Aside from the Philippines, the warning issued by the Japanese government also covers Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

Philippines won’t cooperate with ICC probe, Palace maintains

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday maintained that the Philippine government will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines and its decision to authorize an investigation into the killings under the government’s war on drugs is interference into the country’s domestic affairs.

He also stressed that the country has already withdrawn from the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the ICC.

In March 2019, the Philippines effectively withdrew from the Rome Statute after Duterte cancelled the country’s membership of the ICC’s founding treaty.

Under the ICC’s withdrawal mechanism, the court retains jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state.

The ICC on Wednesday said that its Pre-Trial Chamber 1 has granted then Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to formally conduct a full investigation into the Philippines’ drug war.

Bensouda previously argued that there is a reasonable basis to believe that murder has been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of the state policy.

But Panelo said the ICC can only conduct an investigation if the state’s judicial system is no longer functional, which is not the case in the Philippines.

It must also be proven that the state is unwilling to prosecute suspects in order for the ICC to launch a probe.

Panelo said ICC probers will not be allowed to enter the Philippines. He also believes that the investigation was politically motivated.

COVID-19 reproduction rate in NCR slows down to 1.28 – OCTA

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The reproduction number of coronavirus disease in the National Capital Region (NCR) has improved in the past few days, the OCTA Research Group said Thursday.

In a report posted on Twitter, OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David noted that NCR’s reproduction number, which refers to the average number of secondary infections by each positive case, eased to 1.28 from Sept. 9 to 15.

This rate is lower than the 1.39 reported during the period covering Sept. 2 to 8.

David also noted that the one-week growth rate of NCR dipped to 9 percent from Sept. 8 to 15, compared to the 14 percent recorded from Sept. 2 to 8.

“Kapag bumaba iyong reproduction number kumakaunti ang hawaan, bumabagal ang hawaan. The growth rate will also decrease like ngayon sa NCR, 1.28 reproduction number growth rate is 9% kapag bumaba ang reproduction number to 1 iyong growth rate naman pababa to 0% then magiging negative,” David said in an interview.

“Kapag negative na ang growth rate ibig sabihin kumakaunti na ang cases natin… In fact, nationally 6% na lang ang nadagdag,” he added.

David also said that the capital region recorded an average of 5,819 cases per day over the past week, while the daily attack rate per 100,000 population climbed to 41.66 from the previous 38.24. It also registered a positivity rate of 25 percent.

He noted that the NCR has not yet peaked but there is hope that it may happen in one or two weeks.

“We might be getting close to the peak nationally… That’s why we have renewed again hope that we might not hit 30,000,” he said.

“Most likely today we’ll see 20,000+ cases […] even up to 21,000 to 22,000 but we hope na it will be controlled in the sense it will not exceed the previous high 25,000-26,000. Maybe the trend will start to decrease,” he added.

David also expressed hope that the country’s health system will be able to take a breather by next month if the downward trend continues.

“Based on the trends that we are seeing, by October I am predicting —hindi ito projection, may kasamang hope and prayer — that by October, downward trend na tayo,” he said.

“Pero iyong hospitalization will still remain high for foreseeable future up to the next few weeks,” he added.

He, however, called on the public to continue adhering to the minimum public health and quarantine protocols to help curb COVID-19 infections.

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