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Filipino seaman with Indian COVID-19 variant dies

A FILIPINO seaman who got infected with the Indian coronavirus variant died last week, Philippine health authorities said on Monday.

Three of his crew mates were still confined in the hospital and were recovering, while five would be sent home after completing quarantine at an isolation facility, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online news briefing.

“Their condition is OK,” she said, referring to the three seamen in the hospital.

Two of three more migrant Filipino workers who had tested positive for the Indian variant, have also recovered, she said. The other was being monitored.

Nine of the 12 crew members of the MV Athens who tested positive for the coronavirus had the Indian variant.

The Maritime Industry Authority on May 7 said MV Athens Bridge left India on April 22 and arrived in Vietnam, where the crew members got tested.

The Philippine Coast Guard received a request from the vessel’s captain on May 6 for a medical evaluation of two crew members. The vessel was then 12 nautical miles west of Corregidor Island.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 4,973 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 1.18 million.

There were 48,917 active cases, 1.6% of which were critical, 92.9% were mild, 2% did not show symptoms, 2.1% were severe and 1.4% were moderate.

It said 21 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 18 of which were tagged as recoveries. Fifty-eight cases were deemed duplicates, 50 of which were tagged as recoveries and seven as deaths.

Eighteen recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Six laboratories failed to submit data on May 22, DoH said.

About 12.2 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of May 22, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 167.5 million and killed 3.5 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 148.6 million people have recovered, it said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez told CNN Philippines about 300,000 Moderna doses paid for by the government would arrive on June 21.

Of the 20 million doses ordered by the Philippines from the US company, 13 million were paid for by the National Government, while the rest were ordered by the private sector.

Also on Monday, the Department of Science and Technology said it would study a proposal to mix and match coronavirus vaccines being given to the public.

The study would focus on how the Sinovac shot works with other vaccine brands, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. Dela Peña said in a statement.

“It means two different vaccines for a single person’s two doses,” he said. “To carry out the aims of the study, the safety and immunogenicity of completing the vaccination series from the available COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines will be evaluated for those given Sinovac as the first dose.” 

The 18-month study will involve 1,200 participants, he added.

Mr. Dela Peña said the proposed sites for the study include Antipolo or Marikina City, Manila, Pasig City, Makati or Pasay City, Muntinlupa City, Quezon City, Cebu and Davao.

“Data that will be derived from the population will further clarify the unknowns related to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.” 

Presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing about 4.9 million doses of vaccines have been given out as of May 23.

Local governments have been ordered not to announce the brand of vaccines that are being given out to the public to prevent people who prefer certain brands from flocking to vaccination sites.

Thousands of Filipinos reportedly flocked to vaccination sites in Manila, the capital and a nearby city earlier this week to get Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte made the order to avoid overcrowding at vaccination sites, Mr. Roque said last week

Critics have said the order would make it harder to convince people to get vaccinated. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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