Reds agree not to block safe, prompt delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to remote communities

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021   •   247

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) agrees on the importance of coronavirus vaccines reaching the intended communities without delay.

In response to the appeal of President Rodrigo Duterte, the group assured not to cause any delay in the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines to areas they consider as bulwarks of its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

“The Communist Party of the Philippines must guarantee that the vaccines in the course of their being transported to areas where no city health officers or medical persons, huwag ninyong galawin ang medisina. Allow the vaccines to be transported freely and safely,” Duterte said during Monday’s public address.

However, CPP chief information officer Marco Balbuena said they prefer humanitarian groups to facilitate the transportation, distribution and inoculation.

“We strongly suggest that the transportation, distribution and inoculation drive of Covid-19 vaccines especially in the interior areas be handled by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross and other civilian humanitarian agencies whose personnel are properly trained and who have the facilities to undertake such missions,” Balbuena said.

They want every non-Red Cross vehicle to have proper markings during delivery and as much as possible, no military vehicles among them as there might be miscommunication that could lead to encounters.

“Non-Red Cross vehicles that will be used as Covid-19 vaccine transporters must be clearly and properly marked with a Red Cross over white background,” Balbuena noted.

But according to Malacañang, the government’s vaccine rollout program will push through as planned.

“We have a rollout plan. Iyon po ang masusunod kahit ano pang sabihin ng CPP-NPA,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“I guess they have freedom of expression but they are tagged as a terrorist group so parang they can express their opinion but hanggang dun lang po yun,” he added. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

US gives P170M support for Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine deployment

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The United States (US) government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided P170 million or $3.5 million funds to support the Philippines in its COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the US Embassy in Manila said Thursday.

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law announced this during a visit to a vaccination site in Caloocan City with Philippine Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III, Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan, USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II, and other U.S. and Philippine officials.

The embassy said the new assistance will support the Philippines in strengthening the vaccine supply chain, monitoring vaccine safety, and delivering effective communication campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy.

It will also support local government units as they plan for, track, and administer vaccines, it added.

“While the pandemic has tested our peoples and our economies, the strong bonds between Americans and Filipinos will help us rise above this challenge,” Law said.

“We will continue to fight this unprecedented global health crisis together,” he added.

The latest assistance fund brings the total U.S. government support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response to nearly P1.3 billion ($27 million), the embassy said.

Meanwhile, the embassy further reported that the White House recently announced a P194 billion ($4 billion) commitment to support the COVAX facility.

COVAX Facility is a global initiative to support early vaccine access for 92 countries, including the Philippines.

An initial P97.2-billion ($2 billion) contribution, provided through USAID, is supporting the purchase and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the embassy said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 1.2 million vaccine doses out of the more than 3 million doses that were delivered in the country.

Government data showed that 1,093,651 people received their first shot while 162,065 individuals already got two doses since the vaccination program started on March 1.

 

Galvez: 1.5 million doses of Sinovac, Gamaleya COVID-19 vaccines arriving this April

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac and Gamaleya Institute are expected to arrive in the country within this month, vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday.

Galvez said one million of these vaccine doses will come from Sinovac and 500,000 would be from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.

The first 500,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac are expected to be delivered on April 22 while the second batch will be on April 29.

Galvez noted that 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.

There was no exact date given on the shipment of Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V vaccines, but Galvez assured that it will be delivered within this month.

The Philippines is also waiting for the arrival of additional AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility.

The WHO previously said that the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses for the Philippines has been delayed and that it will be lesser in number than expected, due to a global supply shortage.

Once additional vaccine doses arrive in the country, the national government is eyeing to begin the inoculation of economic frontliners by May and to intensify the vaccination drive in other COVID-19 hotspots in the Philippines.

FDA allows use of Sinovac vaccine on senior citizens

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday announced that it has approved the use of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac BioTech, on senior citizens.

The FDA’s announcement comes after the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) recommended the administration of Sinovac’s vaccine on the elderly.

“After considering the recommendation of the experts and the current situation of high COVID-19 transmission and limited available vaccines, the FDA is allowing the use of Sinovac on senior citizens,” FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said in a statement.

Domingo, however, emphasized that the vaccination of senior citizens using CoronaVac should strictly be preceded by careful evaluation of the person’s health status and exposure risk.

“Vaccination should be preceded by an evaluation of the person’s health status and exposure risk to assure that benefits of vaccination outweigh risks,” he said.

In a separate statement, the Department of Health (DOH) further stressed that while the current efficacy data for senior citizens from Phase III trials is insufficient, the benefits of using the vaccine for this particular group outweigh its risks, and more scientific data on the use of senior citizens may soon become available.

As the government continues its COVID-19 vaccination drive, the DOH and FDA urged the public especially senior citizens and persons with comorbidities to “register for and participate” in the immunization program “to afford themselves the added layer of protection that it can provide.”

“Registration for free vaccination may be done in their respective LGUs,” the two agencies said.

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