• Rody urges US to sell spare jabs to PH
• Pinoys urged to get first vax ‘to save your life’
• Inoculation to protect vs. Lambda variant
• Chinese jabs ‘had no strings attached’
• 6M doses arriving from China, US
President Rodrigo Duterte has warned Filipinos may have to practice safeguards against COVID-19 for a few more years, as the Philippines continued to battle one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks.
Duterte as an example cited the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which infected some 500 million people, saying the disease "was there for a long time, in the air circling" and "changed the lifestyle of the people of Europe at that time."
COVID-19, he said in a taped speech in the small hours of Tuesday, also "changed the lifestyle of everybody on this planet.”
“That will be the life of Filipinos, I think, for the next how many years, that will not go away. That will be the style. We won't be frolicking at night – with the country of 110 million people recording 1.7 million coronavirus infections and 30,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, Duterte urged the United States to allot more coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines, saying his government has funds to buy any surplus supply of the life-saving drugs.
While he acknowledged the US would prioritize Americans first, the President said: “I am just asking America to give us more kung mayroon lang sila (if they have it). We are not — I know that mauna kami — or kami muna, we first before you. We understand it and we accept it.”
“But if there is an excess of supply sa inyo, pakitulong naman dito sa bayan ko (please help my country). We have the money, we buy, we do not ask. We have saved money for this event,” he added.
The US recently donated 3 million Moderna vaccines to the Philippines, delivered early this month. Previously, the US government gave 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the Philippines through the COVAX facility. Duterte has thanked the US for the donation, admitting that such a gesture prompted him to keep the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with its longtime treaty ally.
The President also said he would not force every Filipino to get vaccinated against COVID 19 since “this is a democracy,” but warned it would put their health in danger.
However, Duterte told the Filipino people that getting vaccinated could “save their life.”
“To those who don’t want to get vaccinated, it’s okay with me. We cannot arrest you if you go out or I cannot totally enforce a rule that you don’t (want) –unless, of course, ‘the ones in the barangay (would arrest you),” he said.
Duterte said he believed if it was someone’s time to die, it would happen, saying “the times—our life, if it’s your time to die. But ifyou have a vaccine, maybe, maybe you will reach old age.”
He warned that the virus would “continue to claim lives,” acknowledging that “the basic problem, the fundamental fear, was that it would be here to stay, and it has changed our lives from hereon.”
Duterte urged Filipinos to get vaccinated at the “first opportunity” because “it might save your life.”
Malacanang said with the detection of the country’s first Lambda case and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant being detected, it said that vaccination, especially among the vulnerable population, could greatly reduce the risk of severe disease and deaths.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque also urged the public to get themselves vaccinated to be protected from being severely sick or die from any COVID-19 variant and to continue practicing the minimum public health standards.
Roque said that as of August 15 and based on data from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, 29.31 percent of the national government’s financial assistance for ECQ affected individuals and families in the National Capital Region has been distributed by the NCR LGUs.
At the same time Duterte has said there are "no strings attached" to China's delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines—"except that their boats are there."
Duterte said he had asked for anti-coronavirus jabs about a month or two ago, and that "no strings were attached."
Jabs developed by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech make up about half of the Philippines' coronavirus vaccine supply, which includes at least 1 million donated doses.
Beijing has snubbed a United Nations-backed court's 2016 ruling that junked its historical claims to the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea.
Duterte has refused to press China to follow the ruling, an arbitral award to a Philippine filing, as he pursued investments and loans from the economic superpower.
China in July pledged to donate more coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines as it faces the threat of the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant.
"China and the Philippines are close neighbors that cannot be separated and moved away… There are a thousand reasons to make our relationship a success, and not a single reason to weaken it," Beijing's Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian said.
In related developments:
* The Philippines is set to receive this week six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China and the United States, bringing to 47 million the total doses the country received since February.
"This week, we expect to have four million doses from Sinovac, one million donations from China with Sinopharm, and more or less 400,000 to 500,000 doses of Moderna,” said National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez. Galvez said he was contacted by AstraZeneca and informed him that some 500,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will also arrive on Friday.
* NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan assured the overallpreparedness of her team in handling the expected arrival of more shipments of vaccine in the coming days.
She said more than 41 million COVID-19 vaccines have been facilitated by her port since February 2021. Of which, 22.5 million are Sinovac, 7.85 million AstraZeneca, 3.24 million Johnson & Johnson, 3.81 million Pfizer, 3.83 million Moderna, 365,000 Sputnik V, and 100,000 Hayat-Vax.
Last Sunday, 469,000 doses of Moderna vaccine arrived at the NAIA – Terminal 3 on board Singapore Airlines from the COVAX facility in Belgium.
* Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday sought an inquiry into delays in multi-party agreements between the nationalgovernment and entities looking to procure COVID-19 vaccines, particularly local government units and the private sector.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 858, Zubiri urged the Senate Committee of the Whole on the Vaccination Program to look into reports that MPAs submitted by LGUs and the private sector have been left unsigned.
The senator said he had exhaustive consultations with several LGUs and the private sector, and their number one concern has been the delay on delivery and the unavailability of vaccines in far-flung areas. "They have applied for MPAs with the national government, but these have remained unsigned and haven’t been acted upon.”
* Per the National Task Force, about 14 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated as of 12 August 2021, against a target of 77 million by year end.
The Senate leader cited the need to really fast-track our vaccination, especially with the increasing trend of positive cases, although many places are under ECQ. And with the rise of the Delta variant, it should be all hands on deck in helping our government fight the pandemic.
“I know the national government has been working itself to the ground with our vaccination program. We have reached a record high of over 710,000 doses administered in a single day, and we are averaging at over 500,000 daily vaccinations now. These are good numbers. But we can do even better if we let our LGUs and the private sector procure for their own communities. We can achieve a million doses a day." Meanwhile, a health expert and member of the Department of Science and Technology's vaccine panel has allayed fears that vaccines would no longer work after months of inoculation, amid reports that antibodies they generate also decline as time goes by.
Dr. Rontgene Solante said that aside from neutralizing antibodies, vaccines also generate what is called cell-mediated immunity or T-cells.
These cells along with another type of lymphocyte called B-cells respond to viral infections and stimulate immune response even if the level of vaccine-generated antibodies decrease, Solante said.
T-cells, or memory cells, are able to recall antibodies upon recognizing a viral infection like COVID-19, which Solante said are “responsible for the durability of protection”, he said.
Also, experts have said COVID-19 vaccines yield protection, even against the Lambda variant that the Philippines recently detected.
The head of the country's Vaccine Expert Panel, Dr. Nina Gloriani, said a Chile study said neutralizing antibodies went down threefold against the Lambda variant
The VEP is under the Department of Science and Technology. Some 12.5 million people have been fully vaccinated so far, leaving millions vulnerable to more infectious COVID-19 variants.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila police director Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao on Tuesday ordered the deployment of more than 2,000 men to provide support and security at major COVID-19 vaccination sites in the National Capital Region.
Danao said the deployment and presence of 891 police personnel and 1,378 force multipliers from the five police districts – Southern, Northern, Eastern, Quezon City, and Manila — aimed to monitor and ensure the smooth administration of vaccines to the people.
He added the policemen will also serve as social distancing patrollers and guide the public to observe the minimum health standards at the vaccination sites.
Danao said all deployed personnel at the vaccination sites were fully inoculated to ensure their safety from being infected with the virus while performing their tasks.
“Facing the challenge and threats of the current pandemic, we had been deploying our personnel not only at quarantine control points, quarantine facilities, but we also deployed policemen as convoy security for vaccines, route security for vaccines, and to other areasof concern for the safety delivery of the vaccines," said Danao.