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Philippines to continue AstraZeneca rollout

The Philippine government would continue to roll out AstraZeneca vaccines even after some European countries suspended its use due to some supposed health risks, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

In a joint statement, DoH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was aware of the decision, which it said was a precautionary measure pending investigation.

“The DOH and FDA emphasize that there is no indication for the Philippines to stop the rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines,” they said.

Health authorities were closely coordinating on the matter, they said. “The public is assured they will closely monitor all deployed vaccines.”

They also said the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh the risks. The vaccine could still be given while investigation is ongoing, the agencies said, citing the European Medicine Authority.

The European agency said there was no indication that the vaccination had caused blood clots, which are not among its listed side effects.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland on Thursday suspended the use AstraZeneca vaccines due to blood clots in some people who got the vaccines, Reuters reported.

The Philippines got 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines this month under a global initiative for equal access.

WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe last week said the Philippines would get 4.58 million AstraZeneca vaccines by May under the facility.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire on Friday said 114,615 people had been vaccinated as of Mar. 10. Of total, 101,827 were inoculated with CoronaVac from China and 12,788 were vaccinated with AstraZeneca, she told an online news briefing.

TALLY

DoH reported 4,578 coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to 611,618. It was the biggest daily tally since Sept. 14 when the agency reported 4,699 cases, according to past health bulletins.

The death toll rose by 87 to 12,694 while recoveries increased by 272 to 546,912, it said in a bulletin.

There were 52,012 active cases, 92.2% of which were mild, 4.1% did not show symptoms, 1.5% were critical, 1.5% were severe and 0.71% were moderate.

The Health department said eight duplicates had been removed from tally, while 26 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Five laboratories failed to submit data on March 11.

About 8.6 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Mar. 10, according to DoH’s tracker website.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. told a separate online briefing an inter-agency task force had approved a DoH recommendation to strengthen the enforcement of health protocols.

The task force approved Resolution 102, which also urged local governments to look for all suspected cases and have them tested and isolated within 24 hours.

They were also told to monitor workplaces and closed settings and ensure the proper handover of returning overseas Filipinos to them.

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