Credit to Author: The Manila Times| Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 18:59:31 +0000
Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, February 19, 2021.
The expected early delivery of two vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to the Philippines has been delayed by paperwork. The shipment of 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine, due to arrive on February 23, might be postponed if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not grant the manufacturer an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by February 18, which was yesterday, Thursday, according to Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. The vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE must wait for an indemnification agreement to be signed before it can be shipped, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe. The agreement has to be signed by the developers as part of the requirements of the Global Covax Facility, which will supply the vaccine. The 117,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were supposed to arrive on February 15. Roque said China’s Sinovac wanted to wait for an EUA before delivering the vaccine it is donating to the Philippines. FDA Director General Eric Domingo had said the application of Sinovac had been hanging because it had not completed all the required documents.
The group that is tracking the Covid-19 pandemic in the country has warned that easing quarantine rules in Metro Manila next month could lead to a surge of around 2,400 cases per day by March 26, negating the region’s success in keeping the number of cases down. Octa fellow Dr. Guido David told The Manila Times in a phone interview the National Capital Region will be under a constant threat of a surge once it shifts to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) by March 1, citing the increased mobility of people, reduced physical distancing and waning compliance with health protocols.
Officials from the Russian Embassy in the Philippines vouched for the safety and efficacy of the Sputnik V vaccine and gave assurances that doses would be shipped to the country immediately once the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) allows its emergency use. Vladlen Epifanov, minister-counsellor and deputy chief of mission of the Russian Embassy, gave the assurance during a meeting with members of the Committee on People’s Participation of the House of Representatives.
THE Department of Education (DepEd) might extend the school year and shorten the summer vacation because students needed to catch up with their lessons, officials said. Education Secretary Leonor Briones said students had “nearly six months” of vacation before the transition to distance learning. The department said extending the school year would give students ample time to complete their academic requirements. Earlier, Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said the summer vacation might be shortened to two weeks. Students usually have a two-month break.
President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent the bills seeking to set up a fund that will be used to compensate recipients of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines who may suffer from adverse effects after inoculation. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. during a press briefing on Thursday said the President signed the certification of urgency for Senate Bill 2057 and House Bill 8648. Aside from establishing an indemnity fund, the bills also seek to expedite the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines by allowing local governments to purchase vaccines in cooperation with the Department of Health and the National Task Force Against Covid-19. Galvez earlier stressed the need for Congress to pass the indemnification fund bill, since it would give vaccine manufacturers confidence in supplying the Philippines with Covid-19 vaccines. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. confirmed that Duterte has certified the bills as urgent.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday announced that the Manila Bay was cleaner as fecal coliform levels dropped in early February. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said water samples taken last February 8 from 21 monitoring stations surrounding the Manila Bay had shown significantly lower fecal coliform levels. From the annual average of 7.16 million most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100 ml) in 2020, the level has dropped to 4.87 million mpn/100 ml.
BUSINESS: Liquidity infusion equals to 11% of GDP
In business, liquidity injected by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) meant to provide significant support to the domestic economy picked up to about 11.09 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno. Diokno said as of February 4, the BSP’s various liquidity-easing measures have released nearly P2 trillion into the financial system, which is equivalent to about 11 percent of 2020 nominal GDP.
Topping sports, Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena finished his World Indoor Tour campaign with a bronze medal at the Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland on Thursday. Obiena was able to clear the 5.80-meter mark but did it on his third try paving the way for American Sam Kendricks and Pole Piotr Lisek to seize the gold and silver medals, respectively.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao called out the activists protesting against the Anti Terror Act outside the Supreme Court and saying the High Court’s cases aren’t their usual street demo prey, while Torres discusses the power of political parties.
Today’s editorial asks who has the authority in defining the new normal in national life. Read the full version on the paper’s Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.
With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe day ahead.