Despite all the criticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic, the Philippines posted the world’s highest number of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, while the country ranked third among Southeast Asian countries for the most number of vaccine doses so far administered.

The Department of Health boasted of 72,807 recoveries through its Oplan Recovery that focused on time-based and symptom-based recovery strategies. It is an initiative that the DOH activated at the height of the pandemic last year to monitor the status of confirmed Covid-19 deaths and recoveries.

Under Oplan Recovery, a patient is tagged as recovered when certain conditions are met even without repeat RT-PCR testing and is so recommended by the Philippine College of Physicians, and the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

The program is characterized by enhanced data collection, validation, and reconciliation efforts between the DOH central and regional offices, as well as the local government units.

On the distinction for the most number of people vaccinated in ASEAN, Health Undersec. Myrna Cabotaje said at a DOH media forum that 1.4 million doses of vaccines have been administered already to make the Philippines rank third behind Indonesia and Singapore in vaccine roll-out.

Cabotaje cited latest reports from Bloomberg and from Foreign Service Posts for this accomplishment.

Cabotaje, chair of the national Covid-19 vaccine operation center, also said that before the end of the month, one million doses (500,000 doses on April 22 and another 500,000 doses on April 29) of Sinovac’s “CoronaVac” will arrive.

The country also expects the arrival of 480,000 doses of Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccines by the end of the month but an initial of 20,000 doses are expected to arrive early.

Cabotaje said there is also an “indication” that 194,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines will arrive by the end of the month. About 2.5 million doses of CoronaVac and 900,000 AstraZeneca are also expected to be delivered next month from the Covax Facility.

In her presentation Cabotaje noted that Indonesia started its Sinovac and AstraZeneca, roll-out January 13-21 and has administered 15,811,44 doses.   Singapore, on the other hand, began with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna on December 30-20 and has now administered 1,667,522 doses.

Cabotaje said the Philippines started with Sinovac and  AstraZeneca on March 1-21 and has administered 1,456,793 doses.

Asked why the ranking was based on doses administered and not on the percentage of vaccinated individuals per population, Cabotaje replied: “That is what they are using as an indicator internationally.”

There is however a catch in the Covid cases tagged as recoveries.  Health Undersec. Maria Rosario Vergerei admitted that 48 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation.

Vergerei said this happened because the labs involved were not able to submit their data to the Covid-19 Document Repository System on April 17. Four laboratories were also not able to submit their data to the Covid-19 Document Repository System on April 18.