THE Department of Health urged the public not to be complacent and continue to religiously practice preventive health measures to avoid contracting COVID-19 even with recent news on vaccine progress and procurement.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stressed that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still high, and that the fight against COVID-19 in the country is not yet over despite the recent developments on vaccines.
“We cannot relax because of the news of vaccines. We still have to sustain strong health measures even when the immunization against COVID-19 in our country begins. Otherwise, we might undo all the progress we’ve made over the past months. The vaccine alone is not the solution to this crisis. Your cooperation, all the same, is greatly needed to win this fight against the pandemic,” he said.
Duque reiterated that strictly adhering to the Minimum Public Health Standards such as observing physical distance, proper and frequent handwashing, and wearing face masks and shields shall remain implemented, especially in places or regions with high-risk classification.
He also urged the public to remain cautious despite the observed downtrend in COVID-19 cases in the country recently, noting that these figures are impermanent and its retention will depend on the decisions and actions of the people, particularly during the holiday season.
“Kaya po walang-tigil din naming pinapaalala sa ating mga kababayan na manatiling maingat at alisto, at isaisip ang ating mga health protocols. Gawin po nating prayoridad ang ating kalusugan para na rin sa ikabubuti natin at ang ating mga pamilyang inuuwian. Naglunsad na rin po ang Department of Health ng Keri o Skeri campaign at ang anim na risk factors mula sa Department Circular 2020-0355 o ang Reiteration of the Minimum Public Health Standards for COVID-19 Mitigation during the Holidays upang gabayan ang ating mga mamamayan sa darating na kapaskuhan,” the health chief said.
Among the vaccine developers applying for a clinical trial in the Philippines, Clover Biopharmaceuticals has already received a positive recommendation from both the Vaccines Expert Panel and the Single Joint Review Ethics Board and is currently undergoing other processes to proceed with their application at the Food and Drug Administration. Sinovac was already given a positive recommendation by the VEP, while AstraZeneca and Janssen have already passed the ethics review of the SJREB.
In compliance with FDA Circular 2020-029 or the Guidance on the Applications for the Conduct of COVID-19 Clinical Trials, vaccine developers would need to obtain a positive recommendation from both the VEP and the SJREB before they could have their applications reviewed by the FDA.