By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Philippines health officials reported today the detection of 52 additional B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) cases, 31 additional B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) cases, and 42 additional cases with mutations of potential clinical significance.

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This run of 350 samples sequenced by the UP-Philippine Genome Center, came from NCR, Region 7, and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) in response to the increased number of cases in these areas.

On Thursday, more than 480,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Manila, Philippines from the COVAX Facility, the international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. The Philippines is among the first countries in Southeast Asia to receive vaccines from the COVAX Facility.

“The long days and nights of waiting are finally over. These vaccines will be of great help to our valiant healthcare workers who have been at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. With every dose that we will administer, we are inching towards a safer recovery from this pandemic. So, let us put our trust in science, in vaccines. Together, we will rise as a nation and heal as one,” says Department of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

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“WHO joins partners and the people of the Philippines in welcoming the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. These vaccines coming through COVAX will help protect up to 20% of the population in the country during this year, including healthcare workers, other frontline workers and the elderly – groups who are most at risk. The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to protect people from severe disease and death. Used together with public health measures currently in place – wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding large groups, and washing hands frequently – will help mitigate the effects of the pandemic by reducing deaths and severe disease. We all welcome the addition of vaccines to the available tools in the country which, when used to scale, will contribute to gradual return of day-to-day activities and economic revival in the country. The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines is a powerful step in that direction,” said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines.