Duque, Galvez first in line to ‘boost public confidence’

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. will get inoculated against COVID-19 Monday with the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech to boost public confidence in the government's immunization program, Senator Christopher Go said Sunday.

Go, a former aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, said Galvez will get vaccinated at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) while Duque will get vaccinated at the Lung Center of the Philippines.

The first batch of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government arrived in the country Sunday afternoon.

“They’ll be first in line to show the public that we need to trust the government and what the government is doing,” Go said of Duque and Galvez.

He said he would get vaccinated along with President Duterte.

“We will get vaccinated at the same time. I’m only waiting for the decision of his doctor on what’s the most suitable vaccine for his health, for his age. He’s turning 76 on March 28,” he said in Filipino during a radio interview.

On Feb. 22, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President prefers to get inoculated with a vaccine developed by state-run pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.

He said Duterte is qualified to receive vaccine shots from Sinopharm under the compassionate use license since he is the commander-in-chief of the military.

Sinopharm has yet to secure an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), meanwhile, welcomed reports that doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were scheduled to arrive Monday so that health workers would have a choice of vaccines to use.

The relief was premature, however, as both Duque and Galvez later said the AstraZeneca vaccines would be delayed by a week because of supply problems.

Doctors from PGH on Saturday said the Sinovac vaccine should undergo further appraisal before being administered to health care workers.

The PGH Physician’s Association said the appraisal should be done by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), an advisory body to the Health Department and PhilHealth, to facilitate informed decision-making.

“We recognize the efforts of the PGH administration in hastening the vaccination process for its constituents. However, the vaccination plan should have been handled with more prudence and transparency,” the association said in a statement.

The group said the supposed inoculation using Sinovac was met with a “sweeping disapproval rate of 95 percent” among PGH residents and fellows.

“As the national university hospital, PGH should set an example on how vaccination rollouts should be executed in the country. PGH should uphold the ideals of ethical and evidence-based medicine, for which it has been a bastion,” it said.

“Let us not lose sight of critical thinking, especially with matters relating to our own health by monitoring updates and developments in the COVID-19 vaccination. Public vigilance is key,” it added.

The Philippines logged 2,113 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total to 576,352 infections, as one laboratory was not able to submit its data, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

The DOH reported 29 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 12,318, which is 2.14 percent of the total cases.

The DOH also reported that 9,418 persons have recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 534,271, which is 92.7 percent of the total.

This left 29,763 active cases, which is 5.2 percent of the total number of cases.

Of the active cases, 88.7 percent are mild; 5.3 percent are asymptomatic; 2.6 percent are critical; 2.5 percent are severe; and 0.93 percent are moderate.

Topics: Francisco Duque III , Carlito Galvez Jr , Rodrigo Duterte , Christopher Go , Vaccine , COVID-19
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