COVID-19 Crisis: Philippines monitoring coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron variant)

News about the new and more infectious coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 – also referred to as the Omicron variant – that reportedly originated in South Africa dominated the news cycles this past weekend and already the authorities here in the Philippines are monitoring it, according to a recent Philippine News Agency (PNA) report.

Before proceeding with the PNA’s news report, let’s take a close look as to what exactly is coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 or Omicron variant according to the World Health Organization (WHO) which published an article (published November 26, 2021) about it. The excerpt is pasted below and some parts in boldface…

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.

This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.

There are a number of studies underway and the TAG-VE will continue to evaluate this variant. WHO will communicate new findings with Member States and to the public as needed.

Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.

As such, countries are asked to do the following:

  • enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
  • report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
  • where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.

Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.

As mentioned earlier, the Philippines is paying close attention to the Omicron variant. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippine government is monitoring the new coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 that already has cases in South Africa, acting Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday.

During the Palace briefing, Nograles said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Health (DOH) are widely aware of the variant described by experts as “heavily mutated”.

“We are monitoring — intently monitoring — itong situation na ito. Patuloy pa rin po ang ginagwa nating (We are monitoring — intently monitoring — this situation. We continue to conduct our) genomic surveillance on the ground,” Nograles said in an interview.

He added the government is constantly exchanging information with the World Health Organization about the possible threat of the newly detected variant.

We are waiting their advisories kung ito bang variant na ito (if this variant) is considered a variant of interest or a variant of concern,” Nograles said.

Dana Krizia Sandoval, spokesperson of the Bureau of Immigration, said in another interview that various systems are in place once the IATF sees the need to adjust the travel restrictions caused by emerging Covid-19 variants.

“Kapag may directive po ang IATF na kailangan pong baguhin, immediately po kaya po nating i-implement and we have the sufficient manpower naman po para tugunan po itong mga pangangailangan na ito (Once the IATF gives its directive to change it, we will immediately implement it and we have sufficient manpower to augment these needs),” she added.

Sandoval said they are strictly enforcing health protocols and social distancing measures in all entry and exit points to make sure that travelers are safe when passing through the immigration area.

The above report ended stating that there have been confirmed cases of Omicron variant in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

While the Omicron news published are scary and unsettling to learn about, it should be noted that there are still ways for the Philippines to prevent the new variant from entering the country even though the national authorities are constantly working as people of different nationalities enter, exit or pass through our nation via air travel.

As the Omicron variant was found to be much more infectious than the previous variants of coronavirus, now is a much more crucial time for every unvaccinated person here in the Philippines to go out and get vaccinated. That being said, the patients who are due for a 2nd dose of their vaccine should contact the local authorities to ask when will they be scheduled for the 2nd shot. As for the fully vaccinated, watch out for updates about the release of booster shots for more patients apart from the already receiving senior citizens, the health workers and immunocompromised. For anyone vaccinated already enjoying the added freedom of movement and the ongoing revival of businesses under Metro Manila’s Alert Level 2 status (extended to November 30, 2021), always maintain caution by following health protocols.

As the many secular and liberal media outlets around the world enjoy publishing scary news about Omicron, we who believe in Lord Jesus should not panic nor allow ourselves to be crushed by fear. For His protection, I urge you all to pray to Him with Psalm 91 in the Holy Bible. Maintain unwavering faith in the Lord no matter what.

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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: Millions of Sputnik V vaccine doses plus 5,000 Sputnik Light vaccine doses in the Philippines

Last week, a few million brand new doses of Sputnik V vaccines arrived here in the Philippines and at the same time, the single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine also arrived according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report.

You must be wondering what the differences between Sputnik V and Sputnik Light are. To understand things better, posted are excerpts about the two vaccines from SputnikVaccine.com for your reference. Some parts in boldface…

About Sputnik V

Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine based on a well-studied human adenovirus vector platform. It has been approved for use in 71 countries with a total population of 4 billion people.

The vaccine is named after the first Soviet space satellite. The launch of Sputnik-1 in 1957 reinvigorated space research around the world, creating a so called “Sputnik moment” for the global community.

The vaccine’s efficacy is 97.6%, based on the analysis of data on the incidence of coronavirus among Russians vaccinated with both vaccine components between December 5, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials for the vaccine were completed on August 1, 2020. The Phase 3 clinical trial results were published in Russia in the Lancet magazine on February 2, 2021. Phase 3 clinical trials of Sputnik V have also been successful in the UAE, India, Venezuela and Belarus.

The Sputnik V vaccine is based on a proven well-studied human adenovirus vector platform; these vectors cause the common cold and have plagued humanity for millennia.

Sputnik V was the first coronavirus vaccine to use a heterogeneous boosting approach based on 2 different vectors for 2 vaccine shots. This approach generates a more sustainable immunity compared to vaccines that use the same delivery mechanism for both shots.

The safety, efficacy and lack of long-term adverse effects of adenovirus vaccines have been proven in more than 250 clinical trials over two decades.

Sputnik V does not cause severe allergies.

A storage temperature of +2…+8 °C allows the vaccine to be stored in a regular refrigerator without the need to invest in additional cold chain infrastructure.

Sputnik V is effective against new strains of coronavirus, according to a study by the Gamaleya Research Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology published in the leading international magazine Vaccines.

The vaccine produces protective neutralising antibody titres against new strains, including Alpha B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK), Beta B.1.351 (first identified in South Africa), Gamma P.1 (first identified in Brazil), Delta B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3 (first identified in India) and variants B.1.1.141 and B.1.1.317 with mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) identified in Moscow.

About Sputnik Light

Sputnik Light is the first component (recombinant human adenovirus serotype number 26 (rAd26)) of Sputnik V – the world’s first registered vaccine against coronavirus.

The Sputnik Light vaccine, like Sputnik V, is based on a proven well-studied human adenovirus vector platform; these vectors cause the common cold and have peacefully coexisted with humanity for millenia.

Safety of Sputnik Light, as the first component of Sputnik V, was confirmed by real-world data from UAE, Bahrain, Argentina, Russia, Mexico, Serbia, San Marino, Philippines, Libya, Paraguay, Hungary, Azerbaijan and Belarus.

Sputnik Light, the first component of Sputnik V, is a safe and approved stand-alone one-shot vaccine. 80% proven efficacy against infection, higher than that of most two-shot vaccines.

Sputnik Light is also a leading booster shot for people previously infected with COVID-19 (and) for revaccinations after Sputnik V or other vaccines.

Sputnik Light as a stand-alone vaccine is highly effective against Delta and other mutations: 70% efficacy against infection by Delta, over 75% efficacy in the age group below 60. Efficacy against hospitalization and severe disease is even higher. Sputnik Light efficacy as a booster will be close to that of two shots of Sputnik V against Delta.

Sputnik Light has a long-lasting protection, which even increases over 4-6 months following the vaccination. Many other vaccines showed dramatic decrease in efficacy against Delta variant to below 50% within the same time period.

Were you about to absorb all the details in the above excerpts? Whatever you think of Sputnik V and Sputnik Light, I recommend you read their respective full articles on the official Sputnik Vaccine website.

And now we can proceed on the recent news about the two Russian vaccines and the Philippines. To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippines plans to procure more of the one-shot Sputnik Light anti-coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine after receiving its first batch, donated by Russia, on Friday.

A total of 5,000 doses of the Sputnik Light vaccine arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, along with the 2,805,000 doses (1,402,500 doses each of Components I and II) of Sputnik V shots, which were procured by the Philippine government.

National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said negotiations are underway for the procurement of at least 10 million more doses of Sputnik Light.

“We are confident that these talks would yield positive results as we diversify our vaccine portfolio and scale up our vaccine throughput and achieve herd immunity by the first quarter of 2022,” Galvez said in an interview. “We are very happy that we will be renegotiating again for Sputnik Light.

He said the government would allocate the first batch of the one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which has the lowest vaccination rate among the 17 regions, with about 320,000 fully inoculated out of the 2.9 million target population.

“Ibigay muna natin sa mga hindi pa nakakakuha ng (Let’s give these to those who have yet to get) protection. I believe it is more useful na gamitin itong (to use these) as first dose so we can at least protect na agad ‘yung (right away the) first 5,000,” Galvez said.

He said the latest delivery of 2.8 million doses of Sputnik V completes the government’s procurement contract with the Russian Direct Investment Fund for the supply of 10 million doses.

“The completion of this contract is a testament to the robust relationship between our countries. Moreover, it demonstrates Russia’s strong commitment to helping provide greater vaccine accessibility to all nations, including the Philippines,” Galvez said. “We will be able to protect five million more Filipinos from the fatal effect of the Covid-19 virus and continue to bring down our active caseload and save more lives.”

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Sputnik Light vaccine may be more effective as a booster shot.

“Mukhang maganda for booster iyong Sputnik Light. Mas mahaba daw ang (The Sputnik Light may be better used for booster shots. It gives longer) protection of about eight months beyond,” Duque said in another interview. “We’re going to have our vaccine expert panel review the documents.

Galvez echoed Duque’s statements, saying the Sputnik Light could boost the primary doses that are adenoviral vector-based vaccines, such as AstraZeneca and the similar single-dose Janssen.

“There are many scholars in Jordan saying the Sputnik Light is good. And also, this fits with our heterologous or mix and match of boosters,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization of the following vaccine brands to include an additional shot – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Sputnik Light.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? If you have been vaccinated with Sputnik V, how long has it been since your last shot? If you are fully vaccinated already, regardless of vaccine brands, would you be willing to accept a Sputnik vaccine as your 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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Private sector stakeholders urge government to allow them to use purchased vaccines as booster shots for fully vaccinated employees plus household members

According to a recent report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), more than twenty-five private sector stakeholders urged the government to let them use purchased vaccines as booster shots for their employees who have been fully vaccinated as well as for the household members. Take note that the current growing economic recovery (related to the low daily count of new COVID-19 infections) could be derailed if the huge COVID-19 vaccine supply of the nation does not fully get used before expiration.

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

Some 26 groups from the private sector are appealing to the government to allow them to use the vaccines they purchased to be given as booster shots for their employees and household members.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the private sector said “vaccines are arriving faster than they can be dispensed” and the private sector cannot take the risk of having their purchased vaccines expire and go to waste.

The private sector has been active in buying coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines since last year to help the government in its vaccination efforts.

“We fully understand the need to prioritize certain sectors when vaccines are scarce, but the government has announced that its stockpile of vaccines has now reached close to 60 million and continues to increase as the vaccines are arriving faster than they can be dispensed,” the groups said.

They said the country no longer has a vaccine shortage and now has a large inventory, thus the vaccines that they have purchased could now be used as booster shots for their employees and dependents.

The private groups have also recognized that the high vaccination rate in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and the increasing inoculation rate across the country has resulted in a dramatic decline in cases after the surge due to threats of Delta variant last August.

The boost in vaccination drive has also allowed the safe reopening of the economy.

“But studies show that Covid vaccine efficacy wanes beyond six months and without boosters, we increase the risk of another surge which could again shut down the economy,” the groups added.

The above report ended stating that the government has allowed booster shots mainly for priority groups A1 to A3, specifically the health workers, the senior citizens and the comorbid patients.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? Were you vaccinated by your employer who purchased vaccines in coordination with the national government? Do you think the national authorities will consider the message of the 26 private sector groups? Do you believe that the national authorities are capable on managing COVID-19 vaccines with regards to receiving them and distributing them while monitoring their expiration dates?

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: Fully vaccinated senior citizens in Las Piñas City getting boosted with additional shots

The Manila Bulletin reported that the initial batch of fully vaccinated senior citizens of Las Piñas City got boosted with additional shots for COVID-19 as the local effort on administering booster shots officially launched this past Tuesday. The City Government aims to go higher administering shots for about four thousand fully vaccinated senior citizens daily in the foreseeable future.

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

The Las Pinas City government started administering booster shots against COVID-19 to the city’s senior citizens on Tuesday (Nov. 23).

Paul San Miguel, Public Information Office chief, said Mayor Imelda Aguilar is targeting about 4,000 senior citizens in the city to get the booster shot per day.

San Miguel said booster shots for medical health workers that started on Saturday (Nov. 20) will continue.

He said those who were scheduled to receive their booster shot will receive a text message from the City Health Office (CHO) indicating the site, date, and time of their vaccination.

The PIO chief explained that senior citizens who were fully vaccinated for six months and scheduled to receive their booster shot must present their vaccination card.

The giving of booster shots to senior citizens, including health workers, are scheduled at 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Villar Sipag Hall, University of Perpetual Help –System Dalta covered gym and at Las Pinas General Hospital Satellite and Trauma Center.

While it is true that the City Government already claimed that herd immunity has been achieved, the continued effort on administering booster shots is essential. By now, some of you may have read varied articles about medical studies showing certain vaccines’ protection wearing off months after the last injection/inoculation. Waning immunity is becoming a major topic of discussion about COVID-19 vaccination, and it has been reported that within six months of the 2nd shot of Pfizer, the immunity wanes regardless of the age of the patient.

Once again, booster shots are meant to be injected into fully vaccinated patients and among them are the senior citizens as one key group (the other groups are the health workers and the  immunocompromised individuals).

For all the unvaccinated people reading this, any Las Piñas resident who has yet to get registered for the free COVID-19 vaccines can learn the ways (4 methods) by clicking here. Anyone who is ready and willing to register online can click bit.ly/LasPiñasVaccination

Meanwhile, the City Government is already handling the online registration process for COVID-19 vaccination for local minors (aged 12 to 17) which can be done at http://laspinascityonline.laspinascity.gov.ph/eCVRS/

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a resident of Las Piñas City, what is your reaction to this development? Are there lots of fully vaccinated senior citizens in your local community who are aware of the ongoing booster shots program?

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: Over 33 million fully vaccinated people around the Philippines

According to a report by GMA Network, the total number of fully vaccinated people here in the Philippines surpassed 33 million. On face value, the number looks big but in reality, it is only a fraction of the target number of people who are eligible to be vaccinated. Also it should be remembered that the Philippines has an overall population of more than 100 million.

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

About 33.3 million individuals or 39% of the eligible population in the country are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In a radio interview, Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said the 39% is based on the population who are allowed to get vaccinated, which is around 84 million.

This figure is still far from the government’s target of vaccinating 80% of its 109 million population by May 9, 2022.

The DOH is, however, ramping up the inoculation drive by conducting a three-day national vaccination campaign dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” which seeks to administer five million doses daily or a total of 1 million jabs.

Vergeire emphasized that this shall prioritize the unvaccinated individuals, but the DOH has yet to decide if the boosters will be included in this inoculation drive from November 29 to December 1.

“Kaya natin ito ginagawa para maitaas pa ho natin ang fully vaccinated sa ating bansa bago man lang mag-Pasko, bago mag-holiday season. So, that’s our real target–those who are not yet vaccinated,” she said.

(We are doing this to increase the number of fully vaccinated individuals in our country before the Christmas season. Our real target is those who are not yet vaccinated.)

“Ito po ang pinaguusapan sa ngayon ano, if we are going to also have booster shots during this National Vaccination Day. Magbibigay po tayo ng anunsyo kung itutuloy po natin itong booster vaccination during these three days po.”

(We are still discussing if we would include the booster shots during the National Vaccination Day, and if so, we will announce it soon.)

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? If you are a fully vaccinated person, are you anticipating already the eventual booster shot/3rd 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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Over 180 health workers receive booster shots in Muntinlupa City on 1st day of booster rollout

The City Government of Muntinlupa announced that over one hundred eighty health workers received their respective booster shots during the first day of the rollout of booster shots that took place last Friday, according to a Manila Bulletin news report.

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

The Muntinlupa City government rolled out the administration of booster shots in different vaccination sites on Nov. 19.

According to the City Health Office (CHO), 183 fully vaccinated healthcare workers belonging to the A1 priority group were given booster shots on the first day of the rollout.

Of the total, 178 received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as booster shots while five were given Sinovac Life Sciences’ CoronaVac vaccine.

By vaccination site, 131 healthcare workers were vaccinated at the city-run Ospital ng Muntinlupa (OsMun), 23 at SM Center-Muntinlupa, 17 at Ayala Malls South Park and 12 at Sucat covered court.

In total, 4,748 individuals were vaccinated in Muntinlupa on Nov. 19 including 860 minors aged 12 to 17 years old who got their first dose and 143 minors who received their second dose, making them fully vaccinated.

In launching the booster shots, the Muntinlupa City government held a ceremonial event at SM Center-Muntinlupa attended by CHO officer-in-charge Dr. Juancho Bunyi, Department of Health (DOH) representative Dr. Anatoly De Los Santos, Coun. Allan Camilon and National Immunization Program Coordinator Dr. Rochelle Abat.

According to the DOH, boosters shots are “doses administered to a vaccinated population that has completed primary vaccination series, when, with time, vaccine effectiveness has fallen below a rate deemed sufficient in that population, as indicated in the EUA [Emergency Use Authorization] issued by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration].”

It added that for those who were fully vaccinated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sputnik V, the administration of booster shots is given at least six months after they received their second dose. For the single-dose Janssen vaccine, the booster shot is given at least three months after getting inoculated.

Residents of Muntinlupa City who remain unregistered and unvaccinated should make a move to get registered by learning the ways to do it. Those who are prepared (with personal information available) and willing to go through online registration for the free vaccines in Muntinlupa are encouraged to click https://vaccine.muntinlupacity.gov.ph/muncovac/

Muntinlupa minors may register online through the city’s COVID-19 vaccination registration system at www.vaccine.muntinlupacity.gov.ph/muncovac and choose category “C – Rest of Population.”

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a Muntinlupa City resident, are you eager to find out when will the local authorities start rolling out booster shots for full vaccinated patients from the general population?

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: Fully vaccinated frontline health workers getting boosted (booster shots)

And there they go with a new round of vaccinating lots of people! Yesterday marked the start of the national authorities to inoculate several fully vaccinated healthcare workers with the booster shots (AKA 3rd shots) for COVID-19, as reported by GMA News. In relation to this development, the Philippines has over one hundred twenty-four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, all booster brands recommended by the government were declared safe by the national authorities and there was confidence that surpassing 1.5 million doses per day in terms of inoculation can be achieved.

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

The Philippines on Wednesday began the inoculation of fully-vaccinated healthcare workers with booster shots against COVID-19.

According to Allan Gatus’ report on Super Radyo dzBB, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led the ceremonial vaccination of medical frontliners at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Undersecretary Antipordo Vega also attended the ceremonial vaccination.

Health care workers in San Juan City have also begun receiving their booster doses, according to dzBB reporter Mark Makalalad.

The National Vaccination Operations Center earlier released the guidelines for the vaccination of medical frontliners with booster dose.

Also, the NVOC said Filipinos who were vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac, Gamaleya, and AstraZeneca for their primary dose series must wait at least six months before getting a booster shot.

Meanwhile, those who were vaccinated with the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for their primary dose series must wait until three months.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has said the country may start inoculating fully-vaccinated senior citizens and persons with comorbidities with additional doses by next week.

Posted below is a related news video by GMA…

For the newcomers reading this, the 3rd shot or booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine is need to ensure prolonged immunity to the coronavirus. That being said, if you are fully vaccinated health worker, you should remember how long has it been since you got your 2nd dose. As for the rest of the general population, you have to wait first for the authorities to formally declare booster shots for everyone else as it is not legal yet for any person to just avail of a 3rd shot. Right now, the health workers go first.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? Do you personally know someone who works as a health worker dealing with COVID-19 matters?

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

I Love Israel: Israel welcoming fully vaccinated travelers from the Philippines

Good news for Filipinos who wish to visit Israel and the Holy Land! According to the recent report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Filipino travelers who have been fully vaccinated (with the 2nd dose received within the previous six months or 180 days) can final visit Israel, take the swab test there, go through the mandatory quarantine and once the result shows a negative reading, visitors will be able to enter and start touring.

As we are all living in this ongoing pandemic, there are lots of requirements to be made before even booking a flight to Israel. Those who wish to travel there should also be aware as to what brands of COVID-19 vaccines are acceptable to them.

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

Israel is accepting Filipino and other foreign tourists as long as they are fully vaccinated and their second dose had been administered within the last six months, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said Wednesday.

“On the 1st of November this week, we opened for vaccinated tourists so anybody who is vaccinated can visit Israel. Filipinos are now welcome to visit Israel,” he told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

Tourists may travel to Israel “individually or as a group” but are advised to check first the specific entry guidelines and requirements before booking their flight and tour packages.

The envoy said travelers will have to present a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken 72 hours prior to departure and take another swab upon arrival at the airport.

After the test, the tourist will undergo mandatory quarantine until the result is out.

Fluss noted that Israel is only allowing foreigners who had been vaccinated with a jab recognized by the World Health Organization, such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.

Among others, the second dose must be administered within the past six months and supported by a vaccination certificate.

If (the last shot) is more than six months, you are considered unvaccinated. So either you take the booster and then you can visit or you can’t,” he said.

Filipinos are allowed visa-free entry to Israel but Fluss said they must secure a “special entry permit”, which had been required from all foreign nationals following the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Tourism exchanges’

As Israel looks forward to welcoming Filipino tourists to the Holy Land, Fluss said Israeli travelers are likewise waiting to visit the Philippines, popular for its picturesque beaches and world-class dive spots.

“The Philippines, for Israelis, is a very interesting attraction. Israelis have been to Thailand but they like to always find new and exciting destinations and in the last few years they found the Philippines. So I want to see more of the Israeli exchanges,” he said.

In the meantime, he invited Filipinos to visit their religious sites and churches that had been closed to foreigners since March 2020.

The Philippines is a Christian country and I think people are very keen to travel to the Holy Land and we would be very happy to see more tourists to come and visit,” he said.

“Israel is an interesting country with the combination of the Holy Land, history, religion, culture; and Tel Aviv is a city of fun and is one of those cosmopolitan cities that goes 24 hours. It’s a combination of modern and traditional,” he added.

Fluss is also hoping the Philippine Airlines could finally mount its direct flights between Manila and Tel Aviv in April 2022 after the target launch last October 2021 was postponed “due to issues with the routes”.

Whew! That was a heavy load of information posted above. To make your dreams of visiting Israel come through, you will have to meet all the requirements related to vaccination (note: always have your records ready), COVID-19 testing, getting the special entry permit, booking and more. It’s challenging to meet the requirements but it’s not impossible and ultimately Israel is always a great place to visit filled with wonders of discovery. Visiting the Holy Land with deep faith in the Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit will be tremendous.

Let me remind you about the growing strength of ties between the Philippines and Israel. The State of Israel sent experts here in the Philippines to share their expertise on dealing with COVID-19. Scientists from the Philippines will be hosted by Israel for COVID-19 matters. Months ago, Filipino students and caregivers were vaccinated for free in Israel.

If you truly believe in Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Heavenly Father wholeheartedly and you continue to be faithful (not religious), you should be aware that Christians are meant to stand united with Israel, love the Jewish people and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You can do your part supporting Israel by donating to Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Do not forget to read the Holy Bible, then pray in tongues to the Lord in the privacy of your room with the door shut.

Always be the fearless and aggressive church of Lord Jesus! Always stand in support of Israel!

In ending this I Love Israel piece, posted below are Israel-related videos.

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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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: Enough supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for booster/3rd shots according to DOH

As the issue of the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot and 3rd shot begins to be more talked about in the public, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that there will be enough vaccines in stock to meet the demands for such shots, according to a recent Manila Bulletin news report.

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

The Department of Health (DOH) said there will be enough supply of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in the Philippines once the government starts the implementation of giving booster doses and additional shots to certain groups of the population.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said millions of vaccine doses are expected to be delivered in the country within this year.

“Actually, ang ating vaccine cluster has already announced itong mga parating na bakuna dito sa ating bansa. So starting this November, meron po tayong inaasahan na almost 20 to 25 million doses pa (Actually, our vaccine cluster has already announced these additional vaccines for our country. So starting this November, we expect about 20 to 25 million more doses),” said Vergeire in a television interview on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

“So with the existing stocks pati yung mga parating, enough naman po yung ating supplies (as well as the ones that are coming, we have enough supplies),” she added.

Based on the data of the National Task Force against of COVID-19, a total of 97,678,340 vaccine doses were already delivered in the Philippines.

The Philippines has already administered 56,202,893 vaccine doses as of Oct. 25, as shown in the DOH COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.

Even if the DOH already approved the administration of booster doses and third shots, Vergeire said that they are still in the stage of planning on how it will be done.

“Iyan po ang rekomendasyon ng ating WHO (World Health Organization)—for the immunocompromised, senior citizens, and healthcare workers. Although tinitingnan natin, syempre operationally—– kailangan natin tingnan kung paano natin maisasagawa with this short time period, hanggang December. Baka mag-spill over din tayo hanggang sa isang taon (That is the recommendation of the WHO — for the immunocompromised, senior citizens, and healthcare workers. Although we are looking, of course operationally —– we need to see how we can do this with this short time period, until December. It may spill over into next year),” she said.

Also, before this can be implemented, an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would still be needed.

“Before we can be able to implement this, kailangan ng amended emergency use authority nung ating mga bakuna dito sa ating bansa (we need an amended emergency use authority for our vaccines here in our country),” said Vergeire.

“Lahat ng bakuna natin ngayon ay may emergency use authority. Pero yung EUA po kasi nila, ngayon, currently, specific po yun na dalawang doses lang ang ibibigay, and para sa Janssen na vaccine, isang dose lang. Kaya kailangan po natin ma-amend (All our vaccines now have emergency use authority. But the EUA currently, it’s specific that only two doses will be given, and for the Janssen vaccine, only one dose. So we need to amend that),” she added.

On Monday, Oct. 25, Vergeire said that they are looking to administer COVID-19 booster shots and additional doses to health workers and other eligible groups by November or December.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? If you were fully vaccinated, how long has it been since your 2nd dose? Do you fully trust the WHO? Are you ready to take a 3rd shot of the vaccine once you are contacted?

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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.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: Safety and sanitation at local cinemas emphasized

It has been days since Alert Level 3 was officially implemented all over Metro Manila which allowed for the reopening of several businesses and allowing them to accommodate more customers as the limitations on capacity were modified. Among the businesses authorized by the to reopen were the cinemas or movie theaters although the actual reopening has yet to happen. In fact, I passed by the cinemas at a local mall I visited this past Sunday and I saw they were still closed. Take note that there were attempts to push for reopening Metro Manila cinemas (click here, here and here).

As the reopening is still pending, there is this Manila Bulletin article about local cinemas will strictly implement health protocols. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt plus a few relevant videos about safety and reopening. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs [local government units] have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

I personally support the reopening of cinemas not just because I love watching movies in them but also because cinemas and their employees can contribute a lot to the economic recovery from this COVID-19 crisis we are all living with. When it comes to viewing movies in the comfort of home, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime. Still the very best way to enjoy movies in their full glory is still inside the cinema! I can never forget the day I first saw Wonder Woman (2017) in the IMAX cinema at SM Southmall which was really an immersive experience. I even replayed that same movie in another cinema which had lazy boy seats. I also saw Logan, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and X-Men: Dark Phoenix on IMAX screens in different cinemas. When it comes to regular cinemas, I viewed Write About Love, Shazam!, and Joker to name some. Eventually I got to watch these movies in the comfort of home mainly on Blu-ray (which is always better than streaming) but I can confirm to you all that in my experience, the best place to view movies is still the cinema!

This iconic scene was at its grandest only in the cinema and I was fortunate to watch it on IMAX format!
The immersion of Aquaman on the big screen inside the IMAX cinema was indeed top-notch.

The good news here, as revealed in the excerpt above, is that local cinemas will exert efforts to make their venues clean and safe as their inevitable customers will be those who have been fully vaccinated. Cinema viewing will be far from normal but the latest developments related to Alert Level 3 are very welcome as it is the first step to returning to normalcy as the nation deals with community management and vaccinations for COVID-19. Above all, I urge all of you fully vaccinated people of Metro Manila and around the nation reading this – support the local cinemas! Put a stop to streaming and take the opportunities to watch movies in the movie theater because that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you eager to watch a movie inside the cinema here in Metro Manila as soon as it reopens? Have you been fully vaccinated already? What upcoming movies do you hope to watch in the local movie theater? Have you been following the CEAP on social media lately? Do you think that the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) really care about the plight of the cinema operators and their employees?

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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.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