To ‘overcome’ preferences, the Philippines will not reveal the brand of COVID shot until an appointment is made.

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To ‘overcome’ preferences, the Philippines will not reveal the brand of COVID shot until an appointment is made.

To “overcome” biases for Western vaccines, Philippine officials will not reveal the brands of COVID-19 vaccine being administered at vaccination sites until the person’s appointment.

After huge crowds arrived this week at immunization sites providing freshly obtained doses of the Western Pfizer vaccine in the cities of Paraaque and Manila, the country’s capital, the decision to withhold brand details was made. Fewer than half of the more than 8 million vaccine doses received in February have been administered, according to officials.

“The most effective vaccine is the one that is currently available. Local government units do not disclose the brand of vaccine to be used in vaccination centers to avoid brand preference,” said Philippine Interior Secretary Eduardo Ao. If a resident declines a vaccine dose depending on the brand, he or she will be relegated to the back of the line of people waiting for their shot.

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In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is a coronavirus hotspot. Sinovac Biotech supplied more than 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since February, accounting for more than half of the total doses obtained. The Philippines has struggled with public apprehension and a low number of people registering for shoots, among other issues. Last week, Pfizer shipped the first batch of 193,050 vaccine doses.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections in Malaysia have reached 6,000 for the second day in a row, bringing the total number of infections in the country close to half a million.

The government will meet on Friday to determine whether to tighten the existing lockdown by suspending all economic activity. On Friday, the Health Ministry announced a new high of 6,806 daily cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 492,302. A record 59 deaths were reported, bringing total deaths to 2,099. This marked more than a fourfold jump from January in both total cases and deaths.

Daily cases have surged past 4,000 in recent weeks, prompting Malaysia to impose a one-month near lockdown until June 7, with economic activities allowed to operate. Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan told local media that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will chair a National Security Council meeting on Friday to decide whether to implement a “total lockdown” with the spike in cases.

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