Senate supports DOH’s request to use a chunk of Dengvaxia refund  

admin   •   March 14, 2018   •   3652

FILE PHOTO: Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee supports the Department of Health’s (DOH) intention to use a portion of Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia refund.

Senator Richard Gordon has even filed a bill on the matter.

DOH wants to utilize P300,000 of the  P1.16-billion refund money for dengue kits and surveillance officers who will monitor the condition of Dengvaxia vaccinees.  — UNTV News & Rescue

PH to get COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX in Q1 2021 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) announced that the Philippines has received confirmation of its participation in the COVID-19 vaccine financing instrument – COVAX facility – Advance Market Commitment.

The COVAX Facility, an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), is a global procurement mechanism which invests in a broad portfolio of promising vaccine candidates to support their research, development, and manufacturing.

This facility was setup to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“With the country’s participation in the COVAX Facility, the country is set to receive vaccines in the first quarter of this year,” the DOH said in a statement on Wednesday.

As part of the preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine deployment, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. on Wednesday visited three cold storage facilities that can potentially be used in the first wave of COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.

The cold chain facilities visited were the First Pioneer Distribution Center of UNILAB located in Biñan City, Laguna, the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City, and the Zuellig Pharma Corporation in Parañaque City.

“The inspection was carried out to ensure that the cold chain facilities will meet the storage requirement of vaccines prior to its distribution to identified vaccination sites,” the DOH said.

UNILAB’s cold storage facility has a temperature range of +2 to +8 °C and can store a maximum of five million doses of vaccines.

Meanwhile, Zuellig Pharma reported that its facilities can accommodate pharmaceutical products with temperature requirements ranging between -80°C to +25 °C. Its cold rooms with temperature ranging from +2 to +8 °C can store up to 629 million doses in various warehouses, its -15 to -25 °C walk-in freezers can hold up to 40 million doses, and its 14 ultra-cold freezers with -80 to -70 °C temperature range has the capacity to store up to 6.5 million doses.

“The vaccine cluster, on behalf of the government, is grateful to UNILAB and Zuellig Pharma for partnering with the government in further strengthening the country’s capacity to curb the pandemic. We also express our commitment to ensure continued support for RITM in its preparations to receive vaccines,” Galvez said.

RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos said that RITM currently has four cold rooms with a +2 to +8 °C temperature range, one -20 °C walk-in freezer, and two borrowed ultra-low temperature freezers with a -70 to -80 °C temperature range. Presently, RITM commits its ultra-low temperature storage facility.

With this, the DOH said that Galvez has recommended the constitution of another team at the RITM exclusively handling the COVID-19 vaccine deployment, adding that a separate team for EPI (Expanded Program of Immunization) vaccines is ideal for an uninterrupted focus and roll-out of both immunization programs.

Duque, on the other hand, noted that aside from cold chain facilities, the vaccine cluster is also in talks with third-party logistics providers to ensure efficiency of the entire supply chain management of COVID-19 vaccines, from the receipt of vaccines from the COVAX Facility to its deployment.

“All of these preparations that we are undertaking are aimed at ensuring that the country is ready to receive, store, and mobilize the COVID-19 vaccines that will come from the COVAX Facility,” Duque said.

13 contacts of Filipino with UK variant, positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday (January 20) that eight of the co-passengers of the male case of UK variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) who arrived from Dubai also tested positive for COVID-19.

All eight, who are Filipino nationals, were immediately quarantined upon arrival and were transported to the isolation facilities right after the result of the RT-PCR tests were released.

Though the first RT-PCR tests were COVID-19 positive, their viral load was low and couldn’t be taken for genome sequencing.

The group has undergone swab testing to determine if they, also, are positive for the UK variant.

Aside from the eight individuals, five other close contacts of the UK variant positive patient have been tested positive for COVID-19.

These include two other passengers who were with them on the flight from Dubai, the patient’s mother and his partner, as well as the healthcare worker who assisted him.

Authorities, however, have not revealed any detail yet as to how the mother of the male patient contracted the disease.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte stressed that there was not a time the male patient went home in his residence in Quezon City since they arrived.

“Ang very close contacts niya ay mga household members nila kasama yung nanay at yung girlfriend niya,” explained Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Iyong girlfriend niya initially tested negative pero nung nagre-swab tayo, she turned positive. And the mother, nung na-swab siya, ang resulta niya rin ay positive. So pinadala na rin for sequencing yung kanilang mga specimen,” she added.

All samples from the said five COVID-19 positive patients have been sent to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to also determine if they are positive for the UK variant.

Results are expected to be out on Thursday.

Meanwhile, six more persons from the 159 close contacts of the patient are still being located.

The DOH has asked the help of Contact Tracing Czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong to immediately locate them.

“153 of them ay na-contact na natin. Nagkaroon na tayo ng pakikipag-ugnayan with them. They are all now isolated. So we are now left with 6 but this morning may report sa akin meron na ring nahanap uli na additional two,” Vergeire.

“So apat nalang po ang natitira na hindi natin nahahanap,” she added.

The DOH is closely monitoring the results of the tests on the patient’s close contacts to prevent the spread of the UK variant in the Philippines.

The agency reminds the public to always be responsible and follow strict minimum health standards whatever variant of COVID-19 is prevailing in the country. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

EUA on Pfizer vaccine won’t be revoked yet despite Norway deaths, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The emergency use authorization (EUA) issued last week by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to drug-maker Pfizer-BioNTech for its COVID-19 vaccine will not be revoked yet pending an investigation into claims that it caused the death of some elderly people in Norway, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Norwegian authorities are still looking into reports that 23 individuals aged 75 to 80 with underlying health conditions died after getting inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

Vergeire also said that studies need to be done on the matter.

“Pfizer has to submit a report to the Philippine Food And Drug Administration regarding this matter. Once we evaluate the report, base sa kanilang conclusion, that’s the time FDA can decide on the EUA of Pfizer. For now,” Vergeire said.

“Hanggang wala pang sufficient evidence that it was caused by vaccines, status quo tayo on this EUA given to Pfizer,” she added.

The FDA granted EUA to Pfizer last January 14, the first out of four applications it received so far. Other applications are AstraZeneca, China’s Sinovac, and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said they are still awaiting a report from Norwegian authorities and that they will “revise the conditions of the EUA as needed,” before starting vaccinations as part of the agency’s protocols on the use of vaccines.

Health authorities also reiterated that COVID-19 vaccines will go through stringent evaluation before it can be approved for use in the country.

“Aside from the safety, and the efficacy na meron ang mga bakuna na papasok, titingnan din nila iyon pong social impact nito, titingnan nila ang affordability and titingnan nila sa response ng equity,” Vergeire said.

“They will be evaluating and then they give their recommendation to the Secretary. Kapag positive ang recommendation, we can procure the specific vaccine,” she added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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