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All set for Sinovac vaccine arrival; AstraZeneca doses also coming
Undated photo shows coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Sinovac, file

All set for Sinovac vaccine arrival; AstraZeneca doses also coming

Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The first batch of some 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine donated by China is set to arrive in the country today, Sen. Bong Go said yesterday.

To be inoculated with these vaccines are military personnel, he added.

Go said there is also the expected arrival of 520,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the COVAX Facility on Monday, which will give frontliners options on which vaccines they prefer.

“Finally, the vaccines will arrive from China. This is what the Chinese government promised to donate to the Philippine government. At first, it was 500,000 doses but they will add 100,000 doses for the military personnel and that’s important because that is the timetable,” said Go in an interview over radio dwIZ.

The 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines are good for 300,000 recipients who shall receive two doses each.

“Another good news, we are waiting for the vaccine from COVAX. It will come on Monday from AstraZeneca – about 525,600 doses. I talked to (UK) Ambassador Daniel Pruce (and he) promised to help now,” said Go.

The supply forms part of the 44 million doses of COVAX to inoculate 20 percent of the population. The vaccines will arrive at 12:15 p.m. on Monday. The government is working to acquire 5.2 million to 9.2 million AstraZeneca dosages from the COVAX facility.

“We thank the World Health Organization, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the United Nations Children’s Fund towards this end,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.

“We are grateful to everyone – from our medical frontliners to our fellow Filipinos and foreign partners – who stand by us in this challenging time. Together, we will heal and recover as one nation and one people,” he said.

Roque also thanked UK Ambassador Pruce for his contribution in speeding up the processes for the vaccines’ arrival in the country.

“We would like to thank UK Ambassador Pruce, for it was his intercession that became the reason for the swift arrival of AstraZeneca to the Philippines,” Roque added in Filipino.

Go thanked the Chinese and UK governments for the vaccines, and said their arrival took a while as the government tried to ensure the vaccines complied with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards.

“They are also looking at its safety data because it is useless if it comes and is not safe. We will prioritize the safety and efficacy of those being brought to the country before we start the rollout,” he said.

“Now that vaccines will arrive from China, this is Sinovac and it is important for the public to see that the vaccine rollout is starting,” Go noted.

He said President Duterte ordered the rollout to start immediately so the Chief Executive could reevaluate whether to gradually open up or talk again about declaring modified general community quarantine.

Duterte inoculation

Go maintained that the vaccination of President Duterte will be determined by his doctors considering his health condition.

“The President – his doctor will decide what vaccine to use and the doctor is already choosing what is suitable for his age and health. That is the choice. The President will definitely get vaccinated; he will show it to the public,” he noted.

Go said he will have his inoculation alongside with the President – not to take advantage of his position, but to encourage the public that getting the vaccine is safe.

Simulation exercises

At a public briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted they have been doing everything to prepare for the vaccine rollout.

“Actually, we have been prepared for weeks already because we were expecting the Pfizer vaccines before and now, we are repeating and reviewing our preparations done before,” she added.

Vergeire said that part of these preparations was full-scale simulation exercises of the arrival of the vaccines at the airport and delivery to cold chain storage and other logistics last Feb. 9.

There were also simulation activities at the hospitals – from how the vaccines will be taken out of their boxes up to inoculating them to recipients, among others.

She noted there is now a master list of vaccine recipients and a quick substitution list (QSL) of back-up vaccinees who will step in if an original recipient backs out.

The QSL is based on the priortization framework wherein health care workers will be the first ones to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vergeire added this means that the back-up vaccines will also come from hospitals, “ideally from hospitals near the initial hospitals or the source hospitals where the vaccination is being done.”

“We are ensuring that, as much as possible, not a dose of the vaccine will be wasted because we know how important each dose of these vaccines is,” she maintained.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) says it is “all ready” for the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country today.

During the Laging Handa briefing yesterday morning, MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos said they are ready for the expected arrival of the Sinovac vaccines today.

“There was a simulation and the result was good. The distribution and everything that needs to be done are already ironed out,” Abalos said in Filipino.

“The vaccine route is ready. We are now ready, along with the police,” he added.

Abalos also said they are considering the use of EDSA bus lanes during the delivery of the vaccines from Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

The vaccines are expected to be delivered to several hospitals in different cities in Metro Manila.

“We could use the bus carousel. If not, the lanes beside the bus carousel could be used,” he said.

Abalos revealed that they would be enforcing the same route for the arrival of the next batches of vaccines.

Highest case

As this developed, the Department of Health’s (DOH) Case Bulletin reported 2,921 new COVID-19 infections yesterday, the highest this year.

The cases were documented on Feb.24, bringing the total number of infections to 574,247.

Vergeire confirmed there has been an increase in cases in the past days and this can be attributed to “various factors” such as the easing of restrictions.

She said there has also been complacency on the part of the public regarding minimum health standards such as wearing of masks and face shields and maintenance of physical distancing.

The official also pointed out that the other factor is the “response of the LGUs” to the pandemic.

“We have to scale up our response, particularly the quarantine and isolation protocol,” she added.

Vergeire maintained that many people are now doing “home quarantine and this might be a cause or a factor” for the rise in cases in the country.

DOH data further showed that 42 COVID-19 patients died, raising the death toll to 12,289. On the other hand, 293 cases have recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 524,865.

The number of active cases was at 37,093 or 6.5 percent of the over-all cases. – Christina Mendez, Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Sheila Crisostomo

COVID-19 VACCINE SINOVAC
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