COVID-19 Crisis: Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik Light and Janssen approved by FDA for use as 2nd booster

The path for boosted patients of the Philippines towards the much-discussed 2nd booster shot (note: the 4th shot following the first two doses and the first booster shot) for COVID-19 is looking clearer as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the COVID-19 vaccines of Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik Light and Janssen for use as 2nd boosters, according to a report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Take note that the number of boosted patients nationwide is less than 13 million.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik Light and Janssen Covid-19 vaccines have been approved as second booster shots by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a health official said Tuesday.

In a televised public briefing, National Vaccination Operations Center chair Myrna Cabotaje said the FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for the six brands.

The center is still waiting for the review and final recommendations of the Health and Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).

“Ready na ang guidelines, idadagdag lang natin ‘yung provisions ng FDA EUA saka final recommendations ng (The guidelines are ready, we’ll just add the provisions of FDA EUA and final recommendations of) HTAC,” Cabotaje said.

The administration of second booster shot which was originally slated April 20 is expected to start next week.

Healthcare workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised will be prioritized.

Cabotaje said the second booster shot may be given four months after the first booster dose.

“Gagawin natin sa NCR [National Capital Region] muna, although nagre-request ang Region 3 and Region 4A na isama na sila and then expand natin pagkatapos (We’ll do it in NCR first, although Region 3 and Region 4A have requested to be included and then we’ll expand afterwards),” she added.

In another article published by PNA, Cabotaje stated that booster shots could prevent a possible surge of new COVID-19 cases in the middle of May. She also expressed concern about current low booster shot rate of the nation as a whole.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this new development? If you have been boosted for COVID-19 already, how long has it been since you got your first booster shot? Have you contacted your local vaccination team to find out if you are cleared to avail of a 2nd booster shot from them? Do you still remember the brand of vaccine used for your first booster shot?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Sputnik M vaccine for adolescents (aged 12 to 17) authorized for use in Kazakhstan

Here in the Philippines, the vaccination of minors specifically aged 12 to 17-years-old has been going on for some time now while the vaccination of younger minors aged 5 to 11-years-old is gradually increasing. My concern is that Pfizer’s flawed COVID-19 vaccine has been used mainly on minors aged 5 to 17 (for references, click here and here) as it has been proven that the said vaccine – which uses mRNA technology – provides patients very weak protection from the infectious Omicron variant. The other vaccine used for minors aged 12-17 is Moderna which happens to also be an mRNA vaccine. The more Pfizer vaccines is used in the country, the more concerning it becomes.

Over there in Kazakhstan, it has been announced officially that Sputnik M – a COVID-19 vaccine for patients aged 12 to 17-years-old – has been authorized by the nation’s Health Ministry for use on their adolescents.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the official press release  published by SputnikVaccine.com Some parts in boldface…

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund) today announced that the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan has authorized the use of Sputnik M Russian vaccine for adolescents aged 12-17.

Thus Kazakhstan has become the first country outside Russia to authorize the use of Sputnik M.

In contrast with some international producers offering their vaccines in the same dosage for both adults and adolescents, the Gamaleya Center has developed Sputnik M specifically for adolescents.

Sputnik M is a two-shot vaccine based on the same human adenoviral vectors platform, which is safe and has been widely studied for over 30 years. The only difference between Sputnik M and Sputnik V is a lower concentration of viral particles per dose: Sputnik M for adolescents has 5 times less concentration in comparison with the original Sputnik V in both shots.

Russian Ministry of Health registered Sputnik M on November 24, 2021 based on data from clinical trials confirming the high safety and immunogenicity profile of Sputnik M among adolescents. During the trials there were no serious adverse events registered following vaccination with Sputnik M. Current results are corresponding with those obtained during clinical trials and real-world data on Sputnik V after vaccinating adults.

Sputnik V has been authorized in 71 country with total population of over 4 billion people. It induces stronger and longer lasting immune response against COVID (including the Omicron variant) than many other vaccines, which is further strengthened by Sputnik Light booster. A unique comparative study[1] conducted at Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Italy by a team of 12 Italian and 9 Russian scientists has shown that Sputnik V vaccine demonstrates more than 2 times higher titers of virus neutralizing antibodies to Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant than 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine (2.1 times higher in total and 2.6 times higher 3 months after vaccination).

The study was conducted in the equal laboratory conditions on comparable sera samples from individuals vaccinated with Sputnik V and Pfizer with a similar level of IgG antibodies and virus neutralizing activity (VNA) against Wuhan variant. Sputnik V showed significantly smaller (2.6 times) reduction of virus neutralizing activity against Omicron as compared to reference Wuhan variant than Pfizer vaccine (8.1-fold reduction for Sputnik V in contrast to 21.4-fold reduction for Pfizer vaccine).

It should be remembered that a study in Italy confirmed that Sputnik V provides strong resistance against the Omicron variant and that is reassuring because Sputnik M is derived from Sputnik V. If only the government here in the Philippines would make the right decision to acquire more Sputnik vaccines and immunizing as many Filipinos with them. Right now, the Omicron variant does seem to be bothering Filipinos and in recent times the daily count of new COVID-19 infections nationwide has fallen down significantly.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this newest development? Are you convinced that the national government as well as local government units (LGUs) should seriously consider acquiring more doses of Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines to really immunize as many Filipinos as possible as part of the effort to lift the country up from this pandemic? Don’t you feel concerned about the Pfizer vaccine’s weak protection from the Omicron variant?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

COVID-19 Crisis: More than 75% of Philippines target population declared fully vaccinated

When it was reported that the nation of Denmark lifted most of its pandemic restrictions, more than 60% of their population received a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines. Three doses meaning getting fully vaccinated with two doses of most vaccines and getting boosted with the third shot afterwards. Here in the Philippines, there is still a long way to go before 60% of the population gets boosted but the country has been progressing as more than 75% of Filipinos under the target population got fully vaccinated (2 shots), according to an article published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

A total of 59,120,367 individuals nationwide or 75.7 percent of the target population are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), according to the National Task Force Against Covid-19.

In an interview Wednesday night, National Task Force Against Covid-19 consultant Dr. Maria Paz Corrales said the number is 53 percent of the total Philippine population.

More are expected to receive the life-saving shots as the national government further ramps up its vaccination campaign, expanding it to children aged 5 to 11 years old starting February 4, and in provinces badly hit by Typhoon Odette last year.

Corrales said a total of 780,000 doses of reformulated Pfizer vaccine for this age group would arrive February 3.

She added that the government is planning to hold another round of the national vaccination days for the young age group that would also cover booster doses.

“Meron tayong pinaplanong (We are planning a) national vaccination day that will cover the pediatric population, that’s 5 to 17, and then for the senior citizens, and the booster. We have to ramp up the three so the government is planning to have a national vaccination days para tumaas ang (to increase the number of) vaccination. We hope to achieve 90 million by June,” Corrales said.

In areas stricken by “Odette”, Corrales said the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and the Sputnik Light vaccines are recommended since they get protected against the disease immediately, without having to return for a second dose.

“The problem is ‘yung mga Odette stricken areas, may ibang may problema pa sa storage kasi ‘yung iba wala pang kuryente, may iba naman, ‘yung mga vaccinators apektado dahil sa (There are areas with storage problems since some are still without power. There are also some vaccinators affected by the) Omicron surge but they have fully recuperated and they are going back to work. The government is doing all its efforts to help build again those Odette stricken areas,” Corrales said.

The country was at the height of its national vaccination days in December when “Odette” struck provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao, causing massive flooding and power outages that went on for days, disrupting the vaccination program in many areas.

Just a few days ago, it was announced that the planned vaccination drive of younger minors aged 5 to 11-years-old would be delayed. Nationwide, local government units have been accepting and processing the registration related to the said vaccination drive. Take for example the City Government of Las Piñas confirmed that more than 9,000 children (aged 5 to 11) were registered. For sure the national count of people getting vaccinated, fully vaccinated and boosted will go up. How long it will take for a majority of the fully vaccinated Filipinos to get boosted remains uncertain.

Regardless, I should reiterate that the Philippines should acquire more Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines to immunize people from coronavirus and its variants (including the more infectious Omicron variant). For related articles about Sputnik versus Omicron, click here, here, here, here and here.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about the current vaccination efforts of the Philippines? Do you think the government officials from the national level down to the local level are doing the best they can to get as many people immunized from COVID-19?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: RDIF and Gamaleya point to Italy study confirming Sputnik V vaccine provides strong protection against Omicron variant

With the whole world continues to struggle hard with COVID-19 problems as well as the highly infectious Omicron variant, a recent study conducted in Italy by the Spallanzani Institute confirmed what was determined by other studies before – Sputnik V provides strong protection against the Omicron variant. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Gamaleya highlighted the newest study at the Sputnik Vaccine website very recently as well as other notable updates and detailed references.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the press release at SputnikVaccine.com. Some parts in boldface…

The Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology (Gamaleya Center) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, investor in Sputnik V and Sputnik Light coronavirus vaccines), today announced a unique independent comparative study conducted at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani (Italy) by a joint team of researchers of the Institute and the Gamaleya Center showing that 2 doses of Sputnik V provide more than 2 times higher geometric mean titers (GMT) of virus neutralizing antibodies to the Omicron variant of COVID than 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine (2.1 times higher in total and 2.6 times higher 3 months after vaccination).

An article by a team of 12 Italian and 9 Russian scientists led by Francesco Vaia, Director of the Spallanzani Institute and Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the Gamaleya Center, has been published in medRxiv (the preprint server for health sciences) and is available at:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.15.22269335v1 

The study was conducted in Spallanzani Institute in the equal laboratory conditions at the Italian Spallanzani Institute on comparable groups of sera from individuals vaccinated with Sputnik V and Pfizer, with no statistically significant difference in neutralizing activity against Wuhan variant.The advantages of Sputnik V are the use of native S glycoprotein (spike protein without proline-stabilization and other modifications) and the use of a heterologous prime-boost vaccination regimen. The Pfizer vaccine utilizes the spike protein in a proline-stabilized form in contrast to Sputnik V. Proline-stabilization and other modifications may move an immune response predominantly to the actively mutating receptor-binding domain (RBD) of spike protein. In the Omicron variant, a substantial number of mutations were registered precisely in RBD, which is why such a significant drop in neutralizing activity against this variant may be observed in the sera of Pfizer-vaccinated.

Boosting with Sputnik Light as part of the “mix & match” approach may help address the lower efficacy of mRNA vaccines against Omicron as well as the documented, quickly waning, efficacy of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Partnerships between adenoviral and mRNA vaccines could provide for stronger protection against Omicron and other variants.

Based on the data collected by the Spallanzani Institute and results of previous studies, heterologous (“mix & match”) boosting with Sputnik Light is the best solution to increase other vaccines’ efficacy and extend the booster protection period as optimal adenoviral platform configuration provides better protection against Omicron and other mutations:

a. Sputnik Light as a booster significantly increases virus neutralizing activity against Omicron, which is comparable to titers observed after Sputnik V against wild-type virus, associated with high levels of protection. The study results were summarized in an article available at:

www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.17.21267976v1

b. Sputnik Light has already shown strong results as a booster in “mix & match” trials in Argentina. A combination of Sputnik Light with vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Moderna and Cansino, conducted in 5 provinces (City and Province of Buenos Aires, as well as Córdoba, La Rioja and San Luis) has demonstrated that Sputnik Light induces stronger antibody and T-cell response as compared to a homologous regimen (two shots of the same vaccine). Each “vaccine cocktail” combination with Sputnik Light provided higher antibody titer on the 14th day after administering a second dose when compared to original homologous (same vaccine as first and second dose) regimens of each of the vaccines.

c. As duration of vaccine protection is key to avoid frequent boosting, authors of another study in Argentina have noted that protection against coronavirus remains stable following vaccination with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as a consequence of antibody maturation, resulting in improved potency of antibodies to viral escape mutations:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.22.21262186v1

d. The study conducted by a number of highly respected institutes in the US (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and University of North Carolina) demonstrated that boosting Pfizer vaсcine with Ad26 vector produces optimal durable protection against Omicron with 4 times higher increase in Omicron-specific T-cells and 2.4 times in neutralizing antibody titers vs Pfizer booster. Sputnik Light is based on Ad26 vector and is the universal booster for other vaccines vs all mutations:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.02.21267198v2

e. US study on 168 mln people showed that one-shot COVID vaccine based on Ad26 is superior against infections and hospitalizations to quickly waning two-shot mRNA vaccines. In the 6th month after vaccination, Pfizer protection against hospitalization waned 4 times, while there was no evidence of waning protection against hospitalization for Ad26 vector:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.05.22268648v1

f. Another study conducted on almost 500,000 health care workers in South Africa demonstrated 85% efficacy of Ad26 booster against hospitalization caused by Omicron variant:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.28.21268436v1.full-text

Partnership among vaccine manufacturers through heterologous (“mix & match”) boosting by other vaccines is needed to address the quickly waning efficacy of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, which was documented in multiple studies:

a. The study in US among 65+ years old population demonstrated the decrease in mRNA vaccine effectiveness against Delta accelerated after month 4, reaching a low of approximately 20% in months 5 through 7:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2787183

b. According to Swedish data, the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy against Delta strain is falling to below 30% after 6 months:

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3949410

c. The UK Health Security Agency said those who had received three doses of Pfizer’s vaccine saw their protection against symptomatic illness caused by Omicron variant drop to 45% within 10 weeks:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investigation-of-sars-cov-2-variants-technical-briefings

Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, said:

“The joint study by the Gamaleya Center and Spallanzani Institute confirmed the results obtained in our separate study published in December 2021. The hard scientific data proves Sputnik V has higher virus neutralizing activity against Omicron as compared to other vaccines and will play a major role in the global fight against this new contagious variant.”

Denis Logunov, Deputy Director of the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, noted:

“The Spallanzani Institute is one of the leading European research centers and our joint study provided a unique opportunity for independent analysis of different vaccine platforms against Omicron. Adenoviral vector platform in the core of Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines once again proved to be the best solution in creating strong and durable immunity against COVID and its new variants.”

That was a huge load of information above. While the excerpt is long, I urge you all to read still read the full press release online which itself has some visual presentation of statistics and studies. For insight, read my previous Sputnik-Omicron article. As for my native Philippines, I hope that the government officials have been paying close attention to these press releases and other global studies related to Sputnik vaccines. I also hope the national authorities will acquire a lot more Sputnik vaccines to really protect Filipinos from the Omicron variant which itself caused the deaths of two people here.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you have been vaccinated with a Sputnik V vaccine or the one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine, does this latest, highly detailed press release make you confident with what you have been injected with? If you have been vaccinated with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, are you convinced that the mRNA technology is flawed with regards to providing you protection against the coronvirus and its variants? 

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

COVID-19 Crisis: Slight rise in Metro Manila’s COVID-19 positivity rate was due to holiday frenzy according to OCTA Research

As far as Metro Manila goes, the slight increase of the COVID-19 positivity rate was caused not by the media-magnified Omicron variant but by the holiday frenzy according to OCTA Research in an article published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The slight increase in Metro Manila’s Covid-19 positivity rate, average daily attack rate (ADAR), and reproduction rate was due to the holiday frenzy and not necessarily because of the Omicron variant, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said on Monday.

David said it is premature to say that the newest coronavirus variant had something to do with the spike in numbers.

Based on two-week growth rates (TWGR), David reported that the current reproduction number is at 0.85 percent while the ADAR in the National Capital Region (NCR) is at 0.82 percent.

The positivity rate slightly increased to 1.4 percent.

“So, hindi natin masasabi ngayon na Omicron-driven ito dahil nakita rin naman natin ito last year. Siguro doon sa pagtitipun-tipon ng mga kababayan natin kaya kailangan doble pag-iingat lang naman din ang kinakailangan natin (So we can’t really say that it is Omicron-driven because we have seen this last year. The gatherings might have caused this, so we just really need to be extra careful),” he said in a media briefing.

As of Monday, the country has 9,579 active Covid-19 cases, the 10th straight day that the tally was below 10,000.

Four cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed so far.

Just like last year, David noted that the Covid-19 testing slowed down as laboratories took a break and the recent onslaught of Typhoon Odette affected the operations of some testing centers.

He said a “clear picture” as to how the Covid-19 cases suddenly increased might be available until the first week of January next year.

“Ang nangyari naman noong January this year lang, noong January of 2021, iyong uptick ay bumalik na siya sa normal level. So bumaba ulit siya. Iyon iyong sanang gusto nating makita ngayon na after January, kapag na-resolve na iyong testing, iyong kakulangan natin sa testing at iyong mga closed laboratories ay bababa ulit sa normal levels ang bilang ng kaso. Iyan iyong gusto nating mangyari (So, in January this year, the uptick went back to its normal level. So it went down again. So, that’s what we want to see after January [next year], if we resolved our backlogs in testing and in our laboratories, then the cases will go back to normal levels. That’s what we want to happen),” David said.

David sees no need yet to increase restrictions or push for premature interventions.

“It could just be a holiday uptick, which means na after the holidays, possibly bababa din iyong number of cases and iyong positivity rate (it is possible that the number of cases and the positivity rate will go down),” he added.

As I personally observed, a lot of people and families have been moving around not only because of the Alert Level 2 status of Metro Manila but also because of Christmas-related activities like shopping, touring and dining inside restaurants. I myself saw lots of people moving inside and around Festival Mall and the Alabang Town Center here in Muntinlupa City in the days leading to Christmas. Also there were families who had Christmas parties or small gatherings with relatives. Not even the news about the Omicron variant being present here in the Philippines impacted them. Fortunately for Filipinos, Omicron cases in the country are very few and all of those were detected from passengers who arrived from overseas. As of this writing, the Omicron variant has not been detected in the local population.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this latest development? Do you believe OCTA Research’s analysis about the holiday frenzy being the factor behind the slight rise of COVID-19 positivity? Do you personally know people who still remained unvaccinated to this day? Are you aware about Sputnik vaccines being more effective against the Omicron variant (read a related article by clicking here) and that Pfizer’s vaccines are less effective?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila under Alert Level 2 until December 31, 2021

Good news for people of Metro Manila who are enjoying more liberty to visit friends and families, enjoying shopping and dining, and traveling more! The Alert Level 2 status for Metro Manila, which has been going on for some time now, will remain until December 31, 2021, according to a report published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The Covid-19 Alert Level 2 status in Metro Manila will remain for the rest of the year despite the detection of a third Omicron variant case in the country, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said Monday.

The vaccine czar said the possible amendment on the alert level status will be based on the epidemiological recommendations of the Department of Health, considering key factors on cases surge and hospitalization rate.

“If the cases are high, including critical cases, and if the attack rate will increase, that’s the time we will raise our alert level,” Galvez said during a media briefing at a mall vaccination site in Taytay, Rizal.

Galvez said there is a continuing decline in Covid-19 cases in the country, with just 9,592 active infections as of Monday.

“Thank God, we maintained the low positivity rate. Actually, there are some areas that recorded less than one percent of positivity rate,” he added.

Still, he cautioned the public against complacency amid the downtrend.

“For now, we will just maintain the alert level, but we will massively accelerate the vaccination. At the same time, we will revisit our preparations in terms of treatment, quarantine facilities, and hospital treatments as well as the responses of the local government units (LGUs),” he said.

Stringent border control measures against the Omicron variant are also in place, added Galvez.

“Though we prepared a good response in terms of stringent border controls, as I’ve said earlier, we expected that,” he said. “The low cases and figures were sustained despite the opening of our economy.”

Galvez thanked anew LGUs and the private sector for proactively participating in the national Covid-19 vaccination days.

“And we have already reached our milestone of hitting 100 million jabs administered nationwide and we are now reaching 40 percent fully vaccinated out of our total population. That’s a huge milestone,” he said.

Secretary Vince Dizon, the Presidential Adviser on Covid-19 Response and NTF deputy chief, said the decision to impose lockdowns or to raise the alert level status should be based on the set parameters of number of cases, attack rate, and the two-week growth rate.

For some people, the move to retain the Alert Level 2 status for Metro Manila is surprising due to the global hardship caused by the Omicron variant (including becoming the dominant strain in the United States) which is already here in the Philippines. Still there is the fact that the daily count of new COVID-19 infections remains in the few hundreds and so far, the Omicron variant has not created a spike of new cases which is good because the Philippines is now at a stage of economic and social recovery after many months of restrictions. By the way, if you were injected with the Pfizer vaccine and are wondering how protected you are from Omicron, better read my recent article by clicking here. For those who got vaccinated with Sputnik V or Sputnik Light, click here and here.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Does the constant reporting of Omicron-related news make you feel uncomfortable? Do you believe the Alert Level 2 status extension for Metro Manila is the right move knowing that there are a few cases of Omicron here in the Philippines?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa City issues public warning about Omicron variant

The Omicron variant is still being feared a lot by people and government officials as it is often being reported in the news and the recent published results of two separate studies that found the said variant more infectious and resistant to the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer. The Omicron variant was recently detected here in the Philippines and in relation to that, the City Government of Muntinlupa issued a public warning, according to a recent Manila Bulletin report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin report. Some parts in boldface…

The Muntinlupa City government has reminded residents to strictly follow minimum public health standards after the detection of the first two Omicron variant cases in the country.

Dr. Juancho Bunyi, head of the Muntinlupa City Health Office (CHO), said when the news about the detection of the Omicron variant cases came out, the CHO alerted all barangays and communities to be ready.

Muntinlupa’s Prevent, Detect, Isolation, Treat, Reintegration (PDITR) and the vaccination teams are on alert to ensure that the city is ready, Bunyi added.

He advised the strengthening of rescue units in barangays and the disaster risk reduction and management office due to the Omicron variant, and to strictly implement health protocols especially in malls and other closed areas, and crowded places.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), two Omicron variant cases were detected from 48 samples that were sequenced on Dec. 14.

One Omicron-positive case is a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) who arrived in the Philippines from Japan on Dec. 1 on Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427. His sample was collected on Dec. 5 and he tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Dec. 7. The patient is in an isolation facility managed by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and is asymptomatic but had symptoms of colds and cough upon arrival, according to the DOH.

Prior to the reporting of the first Philippine cases of Omicron, a lot of people have been going out visiting places and coming to varied businesses (stores, food-and-beverage, cinemas, etc.) for their needs and wants. This is evident in Alabang which has many places that attract people like Festival Mall and Commercenter in Filinvest City, the Alabang Town Center (ATC) and Molito commercial complex located just outside Ayala Alabang Village, and more. Those said places are known to attract customers not only from around Muntinlupa but also from BF Homes, Las Piñas City, Cavite province, Laguna province and more.

How the City Government’s public warning about the Omicron variant will affect local commerce remains to be seen.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a Muntinlupa City resident, what can you say about this latest local development? Have you done a lot of research about the Omicron variant already?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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COVID-19 Crisis: According to two studies, Omicron variant causes less severe symptoms while being more resistant to Pfizer’s vaccine

News reports about the Omicron variant continue to scare people and their respective authorities around the world. To cut through all the noise and fear made by the secular liberal media outlets and their Leftist activists working as journalists, it’s time we pay attention to specific details about the Omicron variant with regards to infection and reaction towards the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer, as reported by CBN News.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the statement published by CBN News. Some parts in boldface…

The new Omicron variant of the coronavirus appears to cause less severe symptoms than earlier variants of COVID-19, but it’s also more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine, according to two new studies.

A Center for Disease Control study (CDC), published Friday, looked at 43 people with the confirmed strain.

The five-page report shows the most common symptoms are cough, fatigue, congestion, or runny nose lasting around three days.

More than 58% of those surveyed were young people between 18 and 39 years old. And 79% of those infected with the variant were vaccinated, including 14 people who had received a booster dose. In addition, 16% had been infected with COVID-19 before.

Only one person who was vaccinated was hospitalized.

Findings from a much larger study by Discovery Health revealed the Pfizer vaccine is less responsive to the Omicron variant.

Discovery Health is South Africa’s largest health insurance provider and the group looked at 78,000 cases of this particular variant between Nov. 15 and Dec. 7.

According to study findings, the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination provides 70% protection against hospitalization from Omicron but only 33% protection against a COVID-19 infection from this highly contagious variant.

Ryan Noach, Discovery Health’s chief executive, said the variant is more transmissible despite lower hospitalization rates.

“The omicron-driven fourth wave has a significantly steeper trajectory of new infections relative to prior waves,” he said in a statement. “National data show an exponential increase in both new infections and test positivity rates during the first three weeks of this wave, indicating a highly transmissible variant with rapid community spread of infection.”

“What is encouraging at this stage is a flatter trajectory of hospital admissions indicating likely lower severity of this wave,” he told a news briefing later.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky described their agency’s smaller study as a starting point.

“I know we all remain concerned about where we are in the pandemic both with delta and now with the omicron variant,” she said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing. “CDC has been actively addressing and evaluating the omicron variant and working with state and local jurisdictions to understand its spread.”

As seen in the above report, the two separate studies revealed key aspects of the Omicron variant: it has caused mild symptoms and among the forty-three people who got infected by the variant, one patient (described as vaccinated although it’s not clear as to how many doses were injected) got hospitalized. The other finding about Pfizer’s vaccine being less responsive to Omicron is more concerning as it is a fact that many millions of people around the world got vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech. In a somewhat related move, Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 pill could work against Omicron.

Going back to vaccines, the team behind Sputnik vaccines of Russia declared their current vaccines are effective against all variants, that they will prove to be effective against the Omicron variant, and they went ahead developing a new version of their vaccine with Omicron in mind. Here in the Philippines, the Omicron variant has been detected for the first time. Prior to the confirmation of the first two Omicron cases, the daily average of new COVID-19 infections remained in the hundreds and only 235 new cases were counted on December 14, which is the lowest count since May 2020. The Philippines also has over 40 million people fully vaccinated and a lot more people are able to move around in public and support the many struggling businesses as community restrictions have been eased. As of this writing, it remains to be seen if the Omicron variant will somehow cause a spike in the daily average count of new COVID-19 cases.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about these newest developments related to the Omicron variant? If you were injected with a Pfizer-made vaccine, what can you say about the recent study that found the said vaccine to be less responsive to the Omicron variant? What is the one aspect about Omicron that concerns you the most right now?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Cover photo used in this article was sourced from CBN News.

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/