KUWTT: FDA stops use of AztraZeneca Apr 9, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, April 9, 2021.

READ: FDA stops use of AztraZeneca

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised the Department of Health (DoH) to  stop giving the AZD1222 vaccine of British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca to persons below 60 years old. The recommendation comes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on Wednesday that it found “possible links” between the vaccine and blood clots in 16 cases across Europe. The EMA pointed out that the clots were a “very rare side effect” of the vaccine and that taking the vaccine remained beneficial. FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo said the National Adverse Effects Following Immunization Committee (Naefic) has not received reports of possible platelet and thrombotic issues among those who had been inoculated with the vaccine in the country. However, Domingo said the FDA advised the Health department to restrict the use of the vaccine in light of the EMA warning.

READ: DoJ summons suspect in CA justice’s slay

The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday summoned the lone suspect named in the murder of retired Court of Appeals (CA) justice Normandie Pizarro. The DoJ issued a subpoena against Dr. Ramon Tayag Pangan. The subpoena, dated April 7, was signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Michael Humarang and Prosecution Attorney Grace Arboladura. Pangan was charged with murder by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The DoJ also directed Pangan to submit his counter affidavit within 10 days of receiving the complaint.

READ: PH health capacity nears red line – WHO

THE World Health Organization (WHO) views the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines as “concerning” and urges the government to continue improving its health care capacity. Speaking during a virtual press conference in celebration of World Health Day on Wednesday, WHO Western Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai noted that the Covid surge was inching toward the “red line.” There were many factors for the surge, chief of which is the emergence of the variants of concern, such as the B117, B1351 and the P1 variants as well as the P3 variant first discovered in Central Visayas, he said. Kasai also noted the half-hearted compliance with minimum health standards, such as wearing of masks and face shields and physical distancing. He also blamed vaccine optimism as well as the prevalence of mild, asymptomatic and presymptomatic cases among 20 to 40 year olds.

READ: Duterte fit, healthy – Palace

Malacañang on Thursday squelched rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte had suffered a mild heart attack and gave assurances that he remained “fit and healthy.” In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte “remains fit and healthy for his age and we thank the Filipino people for voicing their concern and wishing the Chief Executive’s strength and good health during this time of Covid-19 pandemic as he continues to discharge his functions as head of the government.” Rumors about Duterte’s health spread on social media after the Palace announced that he had canceled a scheduled public address on Wednesday because several Presidential Security Group (PSG) members became infected with Covid-19.

READ: Duterte cuts tariffs on pork imports

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) that temporarily lowered tariffs on imported pork products to address the impact of the African swine fever (ASF) on the hog industry. Duterte stressed the need to take immediate steps to allow the domestic swine industry to “fully recover and attain sufficient local pork production.” The President approved the National Economic and Development Authority’s proposal to reduce the Most Favored Nation tariff rates on fresh, chilled, or frozen pork products.

READ: Isolation facilities set up in universities

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Thursday announced that additional isolation facilities will be put up in three universities in Metro Manila to ease the pressure on hospitals coping with the surge of Covid-19 cases. Sen. Richard Gordon, PRC chairman, identified the universities as Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), University of the Philippines (UP), and De La Salle University (DLSU).

BUSINESS: Business sentiment more upbeat in Q1

Topping our business section, business confidence in the Philippine economy improved in the first quarter of the year as respondents pointed out positive developments during the period. This is according to the results of the latest Business Expectations Survey (BES) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released during an online briefing on Thursday. Redentor Paolo Alegre Jr., BSP Department of Economic Statistics senior director, reported that the January-March confidence index (CI) — computed as the percentage of companies that answered in the affirmative minus those who replied otherwise — rose to 17.4 percent, from the 10.6 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of last year.

SPORTS: Bradley: Pacquiao is a threat to Bradley

In sports, former two-division world champion and now ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley believes that even at 42 years old, Filipino boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao can still pose a legitimate threat against 33-year-old World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Terrence Crawford. Swirling over the news and social media in the past few days are reports that Pacquiao and Crawford’s camps are talking for a possible title fight in June to be held in Abu Dhabi.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao hits secretaries Delfin Lorenzana and Teodoro Locsin, Jr. over their statements on the Julian Felipe Reef, while Torres slams a congressman over his plans to distribute for free the controversial drug ivermectin as a cure against Covid-19.

Today’s editorial believes the Philippines should retire the term Filipina to denote the nationality for Filipino women. Read a full version on the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe Day of Valor.