Philippines logs 1,952 new COVID-19 cases, works to obtain vaccine

MANILA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines on Saturday reported 1,952 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in the country to 485,797.

Policemen wearing face masks and shields as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, stand guard at a check point in an almost empty road on the eve of Christmas, in Manila on December 24, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

The death toll climbed to 9,398 after 34 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 291 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 449,615.

The Philippines, which has a population of about 110 million, has tested over 6.55 million people for COVID-19.

While battling the steady rise in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, the Philippines is also working to obtain COVID-19 vaccines for its citizens.

Three COVID-19 vaccine makers are seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) in the Philippines so far, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines.

Philippine FDA Director General Enrique Domingo said the FDA on Thursday received the EUA application of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine developed by Gamaleya Research Institute.

"The submission was pre-assessed, and the applicant was instructed to comply with the lacking documents," Domingo said in a statement on Friday night.

He said the 21-day period to review Gamaleya's EUA application will not start until it submits all necessary documentary requirements.

Pfizer was the first to apply for EUA followed by British vaccine maker AstraZeneca.

None of the three has been approved yet, Domingo said in a text message to Xinhua.

The EUAs are a requirement for any vaccine to be used in the Philippines.

The Philippines is in talks with at least seven vaccine makers to procure 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The government plans to inoculate between 50 to 70 million people within 2021.

Through a private sector, the Philippines has signed a deal with AstraZeneca for 2.6 million doses of vaccines, of which half will be donated to the government.

Starting Sunday until Jan. 15, the Philippines will block travelers from Austria as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variants detected in several countries.

The Philippines has already banned the entry of travelers from 27 other countries and regions with confirmed cases of the new coronavirus variants.

The government urged all travelers to the Philippines to postpone their trips until after the travel restrictions end on Jan. 15.