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PH secures 202 million vaccine doses

The Philippines has secured 202 million doses of Covid vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, said 158 million doses were government-procured while 44 million doses were secured through the COVAX facility.

A total of 300,000 doses of Sputnik V jabs will arrive next week and 1.3 million doses next month, along with 25,000 doses of Moderna vaccines procured by the private sector.

On May 20, another 500,000 doses of Sinovac will be delivered and 1.3 million doses by the end of the month, Galvez said during the Cabinet meeting Thursday night at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang.

He said the government will sign a head of terms, or summary of the intended terms of a commercial transaction, with Pfizer-BioNTech to purchase 40 million doses.

Supply agreements with Novavax and Johnson&Johnson will also be finalized this week.

The COVAX facility might deliver 2.2 million Pfizer doses between May and June, Galvez added, and two million AstraZeneca doses to be allocated for second doses.

Overall, the Philippines will get a total of seven million doses in May and 10 million doses in June.

The country’s vaccine inventory may reach 21,829,050 by the end of June. The current tally is 7,759,050 doses, with 2,623,093 doses already administered.

The daily vaccination capacity in the National Capital Region also increased from 59,000 to 83,000. The government targets to expand it to up to 120,000 daily.

To date, the country has activated 3,458 vaccination sites with 5,155,957 doses in its stockpile.

‘VACCINE PASSES’

Meanwhile, a Department of Health official yesterday objected to requiring “vaccine passes” to indoor establishments, saying there is insufficient evidence on whether fully-vaccinated individuals cannot transmit the coronavirus disease 2019.

In a virtual presser, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergiere said the DOH “does not agree” with this measure, noting that initial studies have shown that the currently available Covid-19 vaccines cannot sufficiently block transmission and only provides reduced risk against severe infections and hospitalization.

“We still need to enforce minimum health protocols. And this vaccine pass cannot be recommended,” Vergeire said.

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the vaccine pass system has been discussed with the restaurant sector, with the “timing and protocol” of the system currently being studied.

VITAL SIGNS SCREENING

Vergeire said DOH officials and other experts have agreed to remove vital signs screening from the Covid-19 vaccination process, based on the recommendation of the Philippine Society of Hypertension and the Philippine Heart Association.

She said health workers administering the vaccines will only need to monitor people with a history of hypertension or organ damage before vaccination.

“We included in our guidelines that there should be a separate lane for people, who we want to monitor because of their established disease history,” Vergeire said.

She said vital signs screening is causing long queues in vaccination centers, especially with many individuals deciding to get vaccinated with no prior appointment due to increased vaccine confidence.

“We can observe an increase in confidence of our citizens when they saw how many are getting vaccinated,” Vergeire said.

Based on a DOH survey conducted from March 19 to 30, she said 75 percent of respondents voiced their willingness to get vaccinated if a vaccine is available while 85.5 percent would do the same if they are informed of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

This, compared to 60 percent willingness to get vaccinated before the DOH’s vaccination campaign.*PNA

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