COVID-19 vaccine doses for children aged 11 and below might be available in the country by the end of the year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Tuesday.
“I’m pretty sure Pfizer-BioNtech is going to be there by the end of the year,” said FDA chief Eric Domingo during a Palace briefing.
“We are also waiting on Sinovac to submit their data [for a COVID-19 vaccine] below 18 years old,” Domingo said.
The COVID-19 vaccine brands for minors aged 12 to 17 are limited to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The government has already allowed the administration of booster shots for those already fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the last six months, provided that they are health workers, senior citizens, or persons with comorbidities.
At least 134 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to the Philippines so far, but those fully vaccinated number around 33 million, according to acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.
The government aims to fully vaccinate 80 percent of its 109 million population to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 by May 9, 2022.
The Philippines logged 1,153 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,827,820.
There were 195 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 47,482.
The Department of Health (DOH) also reported 2,182 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,761,617.
There were 18,721 active cases, of which 55.2 percent were mild, 4.7 percent were asymptomatic, 5.8 percent were critical, 13.8 percent were severe, and 20.51 percent were moderate.
The Philippines’ COVID-19 positivity rate was at 2.3 percent of 25,562 tests conducted, slightly lower than the 2.8 percent positivity rate recorded on Monday.
Both figures were within the World Health Organization’s requirement target of less than 5 percent positivity rate.
Nationwide, 32 percent of ICU beds, 28 percent of isolation beds, 17 percent of ward beds, and 18 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 31 percent of ICU beds, 25 percent of isolation beds, 23percent of ward beds, and 20 percent of ventilators, were in use.
The independent OCTA Research Group, meanwhile, said if current trends continue, the seven-day average could decrease to under 200 cases by the first week of December.
OCTA research fellow Guido David said the seven-day average in the National Capital Region (NCR) decreased to less than 300 for the first time since January 2 to 8, 2021.
The positivity rate, he said, went down to 2 percent.
He said the new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila averaged just 293 from Nov. 16 to 22. The last time the seven-day average in the region was below 300 was from Jan. 2 to 8.
The DOH on Monday said intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rate are at risk in the cities of Muntinlupa and Las Piñas.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, during a radio interview, said bed occupancy in the two cities is being monitored as the ICU utilization in the entire National Capital Region (NCR) is only at 30 percent.
“We are monitoring them to see the reasons for their high ICU utilization rate and to know what assistance we can provide,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire said that the Philippines in general is at low-risk classification, with only 30 percent ICU utilization.
As of Sunday, the Muntinlupa city government reported 70 active cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 27,585. Of these, 578 died from the virus.
The Las Piñas government has no updated COVID-19 tally.