WHO approves first malaria vaccine, recommends use for children

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2021   •   521

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first malaria vaccine and has recommended its use among children.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the use of this vaccine could save tens of thousands of young lives each year. The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” he said.

The agency is recommending the use of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions, based on the advice of two WHO global advisory bodies.

For the vaccination, the WHO also said the vaccine should be administered in areas with moderate to high transmission as defined by the agency. Malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.

Meanwhile, financing for the pilot program has been mobilized. AAC

 

 

COVID confirmatory testing should be reserved for symptomatic, vulnerable people – WHO exec

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Targeted testing is a better use of the country’s resources on RT-PCR test, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said, following calls for mass testing amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

With the exponential increase in cases in the country, WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that it would be more prudent “to reserve the testing capacity to test symptomatic people, especially symptomatic elderly and vulnerable people.”

“I think targeted testing is a better use of the resources on RT-PCR test and the hypothesis that if you have a confirmed case in a household and other people are asymptomatic, there is no need to confirm testing, just need to assume that it’s Omicron,” he said during a public briefing.

“On the other hand, it’s also not very useful in testing other asymptomatic people in a household once you have confirmed Omicron case in a household because of the higher transmissibility. They are very likely to get infected or would have already infected,” he added.

Abeyasinghe said that by testing asymptomatic people and the close contacts of COVID positive persons, “we are artificially driving up the positivity rate.”

“It would be far better to use the testing capacity to understand where is the transmission and use that to suppress further transmissions,” he added.

The current surge in the Philippines is believed to be driven by Omicron and Delta variants.

The Philippines on Wednesday logged 32,246 cases, 28,007 cases on Tuesday, and 33,169 last Monday.

But despite the surging cases, Abeyasinghe believes there is no need yet to escalate the alert levels being implemented.

The Philippines’ healthcare system can also manage until about January 27 or 28 if the current COVID-19 trends are maintained, he added.

“We are looking closely at the current Alert Level 3… we are seeing a significant reduction in mobility and if yesterday’s reduction in number is an indication maybe the current alert levels are adequate,” Abeyasinghe said.

“That red line analysis that we have done projects that we can manage the health systems to about the 27/28 of January. Given the trends up to yesterday, with yesterday’s decline, we may be even to manage beyond that,” he added.

Abeyasinghe said alert levels should only be increased if there are signs that the healthcare system is being overwhelmed.

“We are very conscious that we will need to increase those alert levels and increase the restrictions only if we see signs of the healthcare system being overwhelmed. Right now, we don’t see that,” he said.

Rather than further tightening restrictions, he urged the public to continue adhering to public health protocols, and immediately isolate themselves if they have symptoms to reduce the risk of transmission. Vaccination efforts should also be increased to protect people from hospitalization and severe diseases.

No need to upgrade NCR alert level yet amid rising COVID cases, WHO exec says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines ­– There is no need yet to further tighten the restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the COVID-19 Alert Level 3 being imposed in the NCR is sufficient if the reduction in Tuesday’s COVID-19 cases is used as an indication.

“We are looking closely at the current Alert Level 3… we are seeing a significant reduction in mobility and if yesterday’s reduction in number is an indication maybe the current alert levels are adequate,” Abeyasinghe said during a public briefing.

The Philippines on Tuesday recorded over 28,000 new cases, down from the record-high 33,000 logged last January 10.

Abeyasinghe said alert levels should only be increased if there are signs that the healthcare system is being overwhelmed.

“We are very conscious that we will need to increase those alert levels and increase the restrictions only if we see signs of the healthcare system being overwhelmed. Right now, we don’t see that,” he said.

The WHO official said the Philippines may be able to manage the current surge if the decline in new COVID cases will continue.

“Projections are that the Philippines may be able to avert that if even if current trends are continued until about the end of this month, meaning that red line analysis that we have done projects that we can manage the health systems to about the 27/28 of January. Given the trends up to yesterday, with yesterday’s decline, we may be even to manage beyond that,” he added.

Malacañang earlier said that there is no need yet to escalate the country’s alert levels amid ballooning coronavirus cases as the utilization of the healthcare system remains within the moderate risk level.

Apart from restricting mobility, Abeyasinghe stressed the importance of following the minimum public health standards at an individual level and isolating or quarantining themselves if they have symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 to reduce the risk of transmission.

“[This is to] reduce the need for stricter quarantine because that has very serious economic consequences,” he said.

“We need to try to take that best approach and try to keep the economy open unless we are seeing signs that the current alert levels are not working,” he added.

Malacañang earlier said the government’s task force for COVID-19 response will meet on Thursday to discuss the new alert levels to be implemented after January 15.

Vaccine, compliance to minimum health standards, proven effective against Omicron — Duque

Maris Federez   •   December 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III is confident that the country can prevent transmission of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Duque said the Philippines has been successful in containing the transmission of the variant because of the public’s compliance with government measures to fight the deadly disease.

“And so, I think we have strong reason to believe that our compliance and thanks to our people because they — a great majority of them follow the minimum public health standards and this should still prove effective against transmission of variants like Omicron,” Duque said during the weekly Talk to Nation of President Rodrigo Duterte aired Tuesday (December 21) night.

The DOH chief’s statement was in response to the President’s query regarding the government’s vaccination program’s reliability when pitted against the Omicron variant.

“I think there are studies to show that the effectiveness of the vaccines and those who have received booster doses looks like 50 to 80 percent pa rin ang kanyang effectiveness, especially against severe and critical COVID infection. And so we cross our fingers that more studies will support this,” Duque said.

He added that the Philippines has also been successful in containing the transmission of the variant by its implementation of resilient border control.

“Our border controls have been heightened, and that is why we were able to catch three. We already have imported Omicron cases in the country,” he said.

Duque also assured the President that the country’s health experts are monitoring the situation in countries where cases of the Omicron variant are high through the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Because the WHO is able to collate all the information coming from the different countries where Omicron variants have been reported, Sir, you know, sa France, Italy, Germany, Greece, UK, Netherlands, and many other countries,” Duque said.

“So that’s why from that information, we were able to receive that the doubling time of the Omicron variant is somewhere between 1.3 to about 2.6 days doubling time, which again reflects the greater transmissibility of this variant, which is a cause for concern,” he added.

The DOH chief reiterated that the public’s “compliance to minimum public health standards, ito pong masking, hugas, iwas ay — as we have proven them — very effective against Alpha, against Beta, against Gamma, against Delta”.

This, he stressed, should also prove effective against Omicron variant transmission.

 Duque was quick to add, however, that breakthrough infections may still occur.

“There are really two things that we should be very mindful of. And the vaccines are not really barring transmission. That’s why you have breakthrough infection despite people being vaccinated,” he said.

“And having said that, Mr. President, we have heard from the WHO about two weeks ago that the current crop of vaccines can cut transmission with Delta to about 40 percent. So ano pong ibig sabihin niyan? Ibig sabihin 60 percent pa posibleng magkaroon ng infection despite their full vaccination,” he added.

“Now, exactly with Omicron. How much lower will be — will the transmission be reduced ‘no? So iyan, alam na natin it’s a reality. Talagang mayroong breakthrough infection. Mayroong immune escape with the vaccines,” Duque futher said. —/mbmf

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.