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Filipinos scramble to get coronavirus shots from Pfizer

ALMOST half of almost 200,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer, Inc. have been given out, the Health department said on Tuesday, almost two weeks after the government received the shipment under a global initiative for equal access.

About 30,115 Filipinos have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje told an online news briefing.

Ms. Cabotaje, who heads the National Vaccination Operations Center, said the Philippines targets to finish the rollout of the country’s initial Pfizer vials by next week at the earliest.

Thousands of Filipinos reportedly flocked to vaccination sites in Manila, the capital and a nearby city on Tuesday morning to get the Pfizer shot. 

Ms. Cabotaje said the government might order local governments not to announce the brand of vaccines being given out at vaccination centers. “People should avail themselves of whatever vaccine is available,” she said in Filipino.  

Noreen Sapalo, a college lecturer on culture and politics at the University of the Philippines, said the long queues for Pfizer shots in the capital region showed the public’s “low trust” in other brands particularly Chinese-made CoronaVac.

People have relied on social media for vaccine information given the state’s ineffective communication campaign, she said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

The Philippines recently received about 1.5 million doses of CoronaVac. The country is set to take delivery of about 500,000 more CoronaVac doses on May 20.

A 2019 poll by the Social Weather Stations showed that most Filipinos do not trust China, which had a “bad” net trust score of minus 36.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 4,700 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1.16 million.

The death toll rose by 136 to 19,507, while recoveries increased by 6,986 to 1.09 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 49,951 active cases, 1.5% of which were critical, 92.8% were mild, 2.2% did not show symptoms, 2.1% were severe and 1.36% were moderate.

It said 17 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 10 of which were tagged as recoveries and one as death. Eighty-eight recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Seven laboratories failed to submit data on May 17.

About 11.9 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of May 17, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 164.9 million and killed 3.4 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 143.9 million people have recovered, it said.

About 3.3 million vaccine doses had been given as of May 18 — 2.5 million for the first dose and 786,528 for the second dose, according to the Health department. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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