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Robredo questions effectiveness of face shield against COVID-19


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Amid the controversies hounding the government's procurement of  COVID-19 supplies in 2020, Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday questioned if face shields are effective in preventing COVID-19 transmission.

As the Philippines continues to record over 20,000 daily average in new COVID-19 cases, Robredo said that we are only country requiring face shields.

"Nagpe-face shield ako, masunurin ako, pero hindi ko rin alam kung ano ang tulong nito," she pointed out in her weekly radio program.

(I wear face shield, but I also do not know its use in preventing COVID-19.)

Robredo also called on the government to spend taxpayers' money on more important supplies such as COVID-19 medicines as the Senate blue ribbon committee continues its probe on the alleged overpriced COVID-19 equipment.

"Pero nanonood ako sa Senate, grabe pala ang ginagastos natin dito. Sana napupunta sa importanteng bagay e, 'yun nga napupunta pa sa corruption na talagang nakakaapekto sa lahat," the vice president said.

(The government is spending so much. I hope the funds are being used for more important things, but it seems it is being used for corruption at the expense of every Filipino.)

She also supported calls for the government to buy COVID-19 medicines such as tocilizumab, instead of face shields, citing the more than 30,000 COVID-19 deaths recorded as of Sept. 18.

Further, Robredo asked experts to fast-track its study on other anti-COVID drugs as tocilizumab supply is running low. 

She also noted that profiteers are taking advantage of the diminishing supplies of the drug.

"Mayroong ibang brands na available na may effect. Magde-decide niyan experts. Sana madaliin na rin ng  DOH  (Department of Health) o IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) yung pag-a-assess ng alternatives kasi kailangan na kailangan na talaga siya," Robredo said.

(There are other brands but experts will have to decide. I hope DOH and IATF will expedite the assessment of alternatives because we really need it.)

Higher funds for RITM

To address the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccination, Robredo suggested increasing the budget of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

She said this as she lamented the slow issuance of certificate of analysis (CoA), which is needed by local government units when accepting vaccine supply from the national government. 

Robredo said RITM helps in processing of the CoA but the institute could not do its job faster, possibly due to its lack of personnel. She also lamented that the institute suffered cuts in the 2022 proposed national budget.

"Kasi if I am not mistaken, RITM ang gumagawa nito (COA). Ang RITM maraming inaasikaso na iba iba. Sana gawan pa nila ng paraan na mag-hire ng mas maraming tao. Dagdagan ang budget para bumilis," said Robredo.

(RITM has many other roles. I hope it could hire more people. I hope its budget will increase so that the COA will be processed immediately.)

Aside from the CoA, RITM is also one of the many laboratories conducting COVID-19 RT-PCR tests.

Some senators earlier lamented the P170-million cut in RITM's budget, while the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) budget rose to P28.1 billion. —LBG, GMA News

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