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MANILA, July 9 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Thursday said the government’s decision to remove the swab test requirement for travel among fully vaccinated individuals was made as an “incentive” for getting their Covid-19 jabs.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark amid concerns raised by some health experts over the risks posed by simply presenting vaccination cards that prove that a person has been fully vaccinated without swab test results.

“It was decided na (that) because you are fully-vaccinated, as a way of incentivizing at saka ang siyensya naman diyan pag nabakunahan ka na e ang probability na magkakasakit ka ng malala is almost none (and the science behind it is that when you’re vaccinated the chances of getting severely ill is almost none),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque explained that reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests also have a probability of giving wrong results which is why the requirement was lifted.

“Wala naman talagang 100 percent guarantee. Ang PCR test pag ginamit din ‘yan, if at the time you took it hindi ka pa (There’s really no 100 percent guarantee. A PCR test, when you use it, if at the time you took it you’re not yet) reactive then you will be negative but you don’t know when it will actually surface,” he added.

He assured local government units (LGUs) inclined to still require swab or RT-PCR test results before allowing the entry of persons for leisure travel that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will discuss their concerns.

IATF-EID listens to LGUs

“Ang IATF resolutions are resolutions adopted for and in behalf of the President in the exercise of police power. That’s binding on all…Pero sinabi ko rin po, hindi naman po bingi ang IATF. Pinakikinggan naman yung sinasabi ng lokal na pamahalaan (But I am also saying that the IATF is not deaf. They listen to what local governments are saying),” he said.

Currently, all LGUs have to observe all travel guidelines under the IATF-EID resolution.

“Pero hanggang mag-decide po o baguhin ng IATF ang mga patakaran, kinakailangan ipatupad po muna (But until the IATF has decided to change the guidelines, they need to be implemented),” he added.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said LGUs can still require fully vaccinated travelers a negative swab test result as a requirement for entry into their jurisdictions.

Last week, IATF-EID approved Resolution No. 124-B allowing vaccination cards as sufficient alternatives to any testing requirements before travel or upon arrival at LGU of destination.

A fully vaccinated individual is someone who has more than or equal to two weeks after having received the second dose in a two-dose vaccine; or more than or equal to two weeks after having received a single-dose vaccine.

They must be administered with vaccines that are included in the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) List or Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration or Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Covid-19 vaccine brands that are currently part of the Philippines’ inventory and have been cleared for emergency use are Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sputnik V, and Moderna. (MNS)

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