WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Philippines welcomed the month of July with a new set of national and local leaders, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the everyday lives of Filipinos.
How is the new administration addressing the health and economic crisis? What are the key developments on the global front that also impact Filipinos?
Bookmark and refresh this page for the latest news updates, opinion articles, and analysis pieces about the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines.
HPAAC says DOH council not to be blamed for expired vaccines
The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) responded to allegations that the slow decision of the health department’s Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) regarding the second booster led to the expiry of vaccines worth P5.1 billion, stressing the department follows the right process to ensure the safety and effectiveness of our vaccines.
“Importanteng malaman ng taumbayan na ang mga bakunang nag-expire ay kabilang pa sa mga unang order ng pribadong sektor na nakalaan para sa primary series at first booster. Hindi ito binili para gamitin bilang second booster. Ibig sabihin, naparami talaga ang supply na nabili,” the HPAAC said in a statement released on Sunday, July 31.
(The people should know that the expired vaccines are part of the private sector’s first order for the primary series and first booster. These weren’t bought to be used as second boosters. That means there is really excess supply.)
The HPAAC also said the HTAC’s recommendation came out a day after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on July 25, 2022.
Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 1 until August 15 – DOH
The Department of Health said on Saturday, July 30, that Metro Manila will remain under Alert Level 1 – the lowest COVID-19 alert status – from August 1 to 15.
The health department also de-escalated 10 other local government units to Alert Level 1 for the same time period, as the areas have maintained their case and bed utilization rate at low risk, and are “reaching or nearing the vaccination thresholds for target population and target A2 (senior citizens) priority group.”
These areas are Barbaza, Antique; Bato and Tabontabon in Leyte; Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay; Braulio E. Dujali, Davao del Norte; Maitum, Sarangani; Pilar, Surigao del Norte; and Calanogas, Marogong, and Tagoloan II in Lanao del Sur.
DOH expands 2nd COVID-19 booster shot to adults aged 50 and up
The Department of Health also allows people with comorbidities, aged 18 to 49, to get their second booster shot.
Malacañang: IATF to review alert levels on July 18
“The status quo holds for our alert levels, which the IATF will be reviewing on Monday (July 18),” Press Secretary Trixie Angeles said in a statement on Saturday, July 16.
Why 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for Bacolod City expired in DOH warehouse
In Negros Occidental’s premier city, the highly-praised COVID-19 vaccination program of former mayor Bing Leonardia ended with more than 300,000 doses of unused AstraZeneca vaccines expiring in a Department of Health (DOH) cold storage facility in Metro Manila.
The reason: Leonardia’s administration purchased hundreds of thousands of doses, but also hustled for the city’s share from the national government stockpile. It ended up with too much supply even as it chalked up Western Visayas’ best vaccination record.
Now, Mayor Albee Benitez, the city’s new chief executive, and Leonardia’s campaign spokesman are squabbling about the P98 million owed the pharmaceutical firm for the expired vaccines and another 134,000 doses set to expire at the end of July.
Read the full story here.
Marcos urges rollout of COVID-19 boosters, says he doesn’t want to enforce lockdowns anymore
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., speaking before governors and mayors on Friday, July 8, urged the rollout of COVID-19 boosters because he doesn’t want to enforce lockdown restrictions anymore.
“We should roll out our boosters so we can be assured that we will not have any lockdowns, because we don’t want to have another lockdown,” the President said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He added: “This is how we counter the spread of Omicron and its variants. The booster will be the answer for us to be able to return continuously to the opening of our society, opening of our economy, opening of our businesses.”
Sara Duterte wants ‘full week’ face-to-face classes next school year – Marcos
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte wants to have a full week face-to-face classes next school year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said during his meeting with governors and mayors in Malacañang on Friday, July 8.
“Secretary Inday has a plan of a phased return to face-to-face classes. Classes will start maybe in August, September, and by November, ang plano niya ay maging full on na lahat, five days a week, face-to-face ang ating gagawin. Sa simula, baka two days a week lang, three days a week,” Marcos said.
(Secretary Inday has a plan of a phased return to face-to-face classes. Classes will start maybe in August, September, and by November, her plan is for everything to be full on, five days a week, face-to-face. At the start, maybe just two or three days a week.)
Marcos added that students should immediately receive COVID-19 booster shots.
“And corollary to this, I had a briefing with the IATF and the DOH, and there’s really a concern that students returning to schools should receive COVID-19 booster shots,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
WATCH: Still no DOH chief, Marcos wants to strengthen vaccination drive vs COVID-19
Read more here.
Financial woes due to pandemic force Kalayaan College to close
Kalayaan College is the latest pandemic casualty in the education sector as it announced its closure on Monday, July 4, due to financial losses caused in part by the ongoing health crisis.
Read more here.