A total of 1.5 million doses of government-procured Sinovac vaccines from China arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 via a Cebu Pacific flight on Friday, augmenting the country’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery will mean 750,000 more individuals will be protected against COVID-19.
“We are talking here o) 750,000 lives that we can protect against severe COVID-19 infection thereby preventing hospitalization and deaths,” Duque said in an interview.
National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said more vaccines are arriving in the coming days, including a guaranteed 500,000 more doses of Sinovac.
“This large shipment of COVID-19 vaccines with Cebu Pacific brings us closer to our goal of protecting every Filipino as fast as possible,” Galvez said.
“Next month, we will receive 4.5 million more [doses] of Sinovac so this means that the volume is increasing and we are happy,” he added.
On Saturday, 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered from the COVAX facility while on May 11, Galvez assured the first delivery of US-made Pfizer vaccines, totaling 193,000 doses.
He said AstraZeneca will go to the priority areas and about 800,000 doses will be given to Metro Manila.
Within this month, Galvez added that 7 million doses of different brands will be delivered, including the next batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines by the third week, and another 10 million in June.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday announced the official resumption of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for all eligible population, following the recommendation of the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DOH All Experts Group on Vaccines.
Previously, DOH adopted the recommendation of the FDA to temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca for individuals aged below 60 years old, after reports of very rare cases of blood clots.
But the DOH All Experts Group and the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (PCHTM) concluded that there are currently no known risk factors for the blood clots and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine against COVID-19 still outweighs the risk. However, specific guidelines and measures will still be enforced so that the risks can be mitigated.
The DOH said that the resumption and issuance of the guideline is timely as 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive in the country this month.
Based on the guidelines, all vaccination sites should have a strengthened post-vaccination surveillance to spot possible AEFI. Furthermore, all health care workers in vaccination sites will be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms of blood clotting and refer them accordingly to the appropriate health facility for definitive work-up and management.
Also on Friday, the DOH said there is still insufficient data to prove that “mixing and matching brands” would be safe in the long run, and said it would maintain its current policy of using a single brand of COVID-19 vaccine for the first and second dose of vaccines.
Only the United Kingdom is "doing a trial on this mixing of vaccines," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
“We are looking at the experience of other countries... so we can include it in our studies,” Vergeire said.
The possibility of mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines on one person resurfaced earlier this week after a vaccine expert said that President Rodrigo Duterte may have to be inoculated with a different jab should Sinopharm fail to get an approval from drug regulators.
Duterte was inoculated with Sinopharm, a brand which has yet to receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
Duterte later apologized for using an unauthorized COVID-19 jab, but noted that it was his doctor who recommended the use of Sinopharm.
On Thursday, Malacañang said he would get the second Sinopharm dose.
Sinopharm is currently available in the country through compassionate special permits, which is granted to a hospital or a doctor who requests for it, Vergeire said.
The DOH said they are monitoring the President daily for possible adverse effects of the jab.
When asked who would be held accountable should Duterte suffer from side effects, Vergeire said that based on the compassionate use permit, it is the hospital or doctor that applied for the permit that is accountable.
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