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DOH to prioritize vulnerable groups in vaccine program

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Frontline health workers and the vulnerable groups will be the priority in the vaccination for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) once a vaccine becomes available, according to the Department of Health (DoH) in a report by Manila Times.

The DoH issued the statement as the Philippines continues to prepare for the vaccine solidarity trials that would be organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Science and Technology in late October. Independent vaccine trials from other manufacturing companies have also been set.

Speaking during the Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said once a Covid-19 vaccine has been developed, health care workers and vulnerable population groups will be given top priority as they are considered high-risk.

She said this was in line with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte as well as recommendations from international experts.

Vergeire said the cost of the prospective vaccines has not been fixed  amid reports that a dose may cost about $10 or less than P1,000 for two doses.

She said the government was now talking to different bilateral partners, as well as joining
the Global Covid-19 Vaccine Access Facility or Covax Facility, where the country will receive subsidy to defray the cost of the vaccines for at least 20 percent of the population.

Meanwhile, acalabrutinib, a drug used in chemotherapy in cancer patients, will be added to the WHO’s solidarity trials for therapeutics after the initial list of medications did not improve the condition of “severe and critical patients.”

WHO said remdesivir, lopinavir and ritonavir, hydroxychloroquine, and interferon “appeared to have little  or no effect on the 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of Covid-19 among hospitalized patients.”

Vergeire said acalabrutinib will be used to determine whether there would be a decrease in inflammation and an increase in oxygenation among severely or critically infected Covid-19 patients.

Speaking in Filipino, Vergeire said based on studies, there is evidence that the use of Acalabrutinib decreases inflammation in the body, which is why WHO decided to include the drug in the clinical trial.

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