COVID-19 infections nearing 400,000; deaths reach 7,661

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 1,347 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 399,749.

The death toll rose by 14 to 7,661, while recoveries increased by 187 to 361,919, it said in a bulletin.

There were 30,169 active cases, 83% of which were mild, 9.4% did not show symptoms, 4.8% were critical and 2.7% were severe.

Cavite reported the highest number of new cases at 92, followed by Manila at 77, Quezon City at 58, Baguio City at 55 and Laguna at 52, the agency said.

Forty-seven duplicates were removed from the tally, while nine cases previously tagged as recovered were reclassified as deaths it added.

Eight laboratories failed to submit their data on Nov. 9, DoH said.

The coronavirus has sickened about 51.3 million and killed 1.3 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

About 36 million people have recovered, it said.

Meanwhile, the government said it would not fast-track the approval of coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer, Inc. for local use, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña told an online news briefing.

The vaccines, which have been given emergency approvals by the United States to use in mild cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus probably would not be prioritized for local registration, he said. “I doubt whether we will follow the emergency approvals if the trials were not done here,” Mr. de la Peña said in mixed English and Filpino. He added that the local Food and Drug Administration would have the final say on this.

Reuters reported on Monday that Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine with German partner BioNTech SE is 90% effective based on initial trials. Mr. De la Pena said the Philippines would not allow emergency trials locally, adding that the law even has a phase 4 requirement for clinical trials.

But Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez told a separate news briefing the company was in talks with the FDA and DoH on the initial procurement plan for the vaccines.

“Pfizer has a country manager in the Philippines who is speaking to the DoH and the FDA over how many vaccines we will get from them,” he said in Filipino.

The company will produce 100 million vaccines for patients in the US, and as many as a billion will be produced by mid-2021. Mr. Romualdez said the Philippines had a good chance of getting supplies even if the vaccines would be in high demand. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez

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