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Philippines gets 3M more doses of Coronavac

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES on Wednesday took delivery of 3 million more doses of CoronaVac that the government bought from China, according to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

The state bought the vaccines from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. through the Asian Development Bank, it said.

On Tuesday night, the government received about 794,000 doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca Plc, donated by Germany.

The state is aiming to vaccinate at least 50% of adult Filipinos by yearend. It is planning to hold a National Vaccine Day program to be carried out on Nov. 29 until Dec. 1, as it tries to inoculate as many as 15 million people.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 2,646 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2.8 million.

The death toll rose by 99 to 44,665, while recoveries increased by 4,029 to 2.7 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 29,138 active cases, 60.8% of which were mild, 7% did not show symptoms, 10.4% were severe, 17.36% were moderate and 4.4% were critical.

The agency said 29 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 20 of which were recoveries, while one was reclassified as death. Seven laboratories failed to submit data on Nov. 8.

It also said 40% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied.

Meanwhile, Party-list Rep. Rico B. Geron has filed House Bill 10458 or the Workers’ Mandatory Vaccination Plan, which seeks to make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory for employment.

“More employers are taking steps to urge their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said in the bills explanatory note. “Employers are strategically thinking how to support vaccination plans for the security of their employees and business operations,” he added.

Last week, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said he was in favor of making coronavirus vaccinations compulsory, otherwise Filipinos would continue to be at risk.

Analysts have warned that requiring Filipinos to get vaccinated against the coronavirus would tarnish the credibility of the government’s pandemic response and worsen discrimination against unvaccinated workers.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines last month said some employers were withholding the salaries of workers who were not fully vaccinated, which is illegal.

A poll conducted by the Social Weather Stations in September showed that 64% of adult Filipinos were now willing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, up from 55% in June.

More than 65 million coronavirus vaccines had been given out as of Nov. 9, with 30.1 million Filipinos having been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to data from an inter-agency task force.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night said employers could refuse to hire unvaccinated workers under the law.

“You have the right to refuse, to accept an employee… who is not vaccinated,” he said in a taped Cabinet meeting, citing the risks that an unvaccinated employee poses to his co-workers.

“In this case, you are only protecting your property, your investments, your business,” Mr. Duterte said.

In addition, requiring such would also ensure that other employees will be protected, he added, since with vaccination, “the severity of the damage to your health is lessened progressively.”

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III earlier said some companies could refuse unvaccinated employees from working but could not terminate them. Their salaries should also not be withheld.

Once hired, “any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against in terms of tenure, promotion, training, pay, and other benefits, among others, or terminated from employment,” he said, citing Labor Advisory No. 3.

At the same meeting, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the average daily COVID-19 vaccination was 781,957, which was still short of the government’s 1.5-million target. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Russell Louis C. Ku

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