WHO laments world’s poorest countries might get left behind in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021   •   377

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lamented that distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to the “world’s poorest countries” could face delays.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said richer countries and several private companies are buying up all the available vaccines. This also causes a spike in prices of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure—and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.

Ghebreyesus reported that 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries while only 25 have been administered in one lowest-income country.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” he noted.

WHO previously promised free COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries enlisted in the COVAX facility, which includes the Philippines.

The WHO Director General also expressed concerns that the pandemic may last longer if there is no coordination in the vaccine distribution across the globe.

“Not only does this ‘me-first’ approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating. Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” he said. AAC (with reports from Mirasol Abogadil)

Duterte to wait for FDA approval before using Sinopharm vax – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will wait for China-state-owned Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before receiving a dose, his spokesperson said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after the FDA confirmed that it has received Sinopharm’s application for an EUA that was filed on Monday afternoon.

“Mag-aantay po si president ng EUA dahil nabalita ko nga kahapon, mayroon na pong nag-apply ng EUA for the Sinopharm,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Securing an EUA from the FDA is part of the process for a vaccine to be legally used in the country.

The FDA earlier approved a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for the members of the Presidential Security Group.

The agency, however, clarified that the issuance of such a permit is not tantamount to a stamp of approval.

Duterte earlier expressed a preference for Sinopharm developed COVID-19 vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gatchalian volunteers to be inoculated with Sinovac vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said he has volunteered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech in a bid to address vaccine hesitancy.

In a statement, Gatchalian said he is willing to be inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac if allowed under the government’s prioritization framework for the nationwide immunization campaign.

“Alam ko may prioritization tayo ngayon. Kung hindi naman lalabag dito, I would volunteer to be vaccinated by Sinovac. This is to show to the public our support to the vaccination program,” Gatchalian said.

The senator said he sent word to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. over the weekend of his willingness to participate in the national vaccination program.

This is also to disprove the notion that some politicians want to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice and with an efficacy rate higher than CoronaVac, he added.

“What’s more important to me is the seal of approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If it’s approved by the FDA, which went through tedious analysis prior to the grant of authorization for emergency use, I’m okay with it,” he said.

“I’m okay with any brand of anti-COVID-19 vaccine. I’m not brand conscious. I put my trust in the FDA,” he added.

The FDA earlier said that Sinovac’s CoronaVac is not recommended for healthcare workers frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its low efficacy rate of 50.4%, based on trials conducted in Brazil.

The FDA, however, clarified that health workers can still choose to receive the vaccine as it only made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.

The Philippine government on Monday rolled out its immunization program after COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.

The Department of Health said that more than 700 frontline workers, and government officials received the vaccine on the first day of immunization.

Prior to Monday’s immunization drive, a survey conducted from January 26 to February 1, 2021 by the OCTA Research Group showed that only 19% of Filipinos are willing to have themselves vaccinated while 46% would not want to be inoculated and 35% are still undecided.

Gatchalian, however, expressed optimism that the figures will change in the coming days.

“Maraming hesitant dahil bago itong vaccine. Kaya importante dito ang confidence building na dapat pangunahan ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno, well-known personalities, at kahit mga elected officials kagaya ng ginawa ni Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he said.

More frontliners in Manila register for city’s COVID-19 vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—More frontliners in the city of Manila have pre-registered for the city’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said that the number of registrants increased from the initial 200 to 1,900 on Monday when the government launched its vaccination drive.

This is almost half of the total number of medical frontliners in six government hospitals in the city.

Maraming na-inspire na mga doctor at nurses. So, umakyat ng 1,900 ang aming nagparehistro. So, kaya ang payo ko, don’t miss the opportunity. Ang pinakamabisang bakuna ay ang bakunang nasa braso mo (A lot of doctors and nurses were inspired so 1,900 registered. My advice is to not miss the opportunity. The most effective vaccine is the vaccine injected in your arm), he said.

Domagoso assured vaccine registrants they can still choose the brand of vaccine they want to receive.

An initial 3,000 Sinovac vaccine vials have been delivered to Manila City which will be administered to 1,500 individuals. The city government aims to vaccinate one of the two doses within the week.

Meanwhile, Domagoso said he is waiting for a proper clearance before getting vaccinated as policy states that medical frontliners are the priority for the COVID-19 vaccines. AAC

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