Philippines expecting Covid-19 vaccine by mid February as virus total tops 527,000

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III pretending to inject a volunteer as they still wait for vaccination, as he participates in a "Covid-19 Vaccination Dry Run" in Taguig, - AP

MANILA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua): The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Monday 1,658 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the South-East Asian country to 527,272.

The death toll climbed to 10,807 after 58 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 27 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 487,574.

The Philippines, with a population about 110 million, has tested over 7.3 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe lauded the Philippines for making use of the prolonged coronavirus lockdown in dealing with the pandemic.

In a virtual news conference, Abeyasinghe said the Philippines made the "wise" decision to use the lockdown imposed in mid-March last year to strengthen the country's health system.

The Philippines remains under varying degrees of lockdown restrictions for more than 10 months now, causing the economy to shrink 9.5 percent in 2020.

Abeyasinghe confirmed at the briefing that Pfizer BioNTech is expected to deliver approximately 117,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine under the WHO-led COVAX facility to the Philippines "within the second or third week of February."

"The COVAX facility is meant to minimise the impact of the pandemic and for economic revival," he said, adding the priority is to protect the most vulnerable such as the health care workers who continue to risk lives daily caring for Covid-19 patients.

"We need to prioritize the health care workers so that they can continue to provide their services," he said.

Another priority is the elderly with comorbidity or existing illness, he said.

"The older you become the higher the death rate when you get infected with Covid-19. If you want to minimize deaths, you have to prioritize those groups," he said.

He said the WHO is asking member states to prioritize these two groups.

The National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez announced over the weekend that the Philippines stands to receive more than 9 million doses of vaccines from pharmaceutical makers Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca under the COVAX facility "within the first and second quarters of this year."

He said 5.6 million doses of vaccines are expected to arrive "within the first quarter" of 2021.

The Philippine government plans to buy 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year. - Xinhua
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Philippines , Vaccine , Covid-19 , Mid February , Cases , Above 527 , 000


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