THE Department of Health (DoH) has allotted P2.4 billion for coronavirus vaccines in its budget for next year. The amount could change depending the price of vaccines once they become available, it said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday said China had promised to prioritize the Philippines once it finds a vaccine.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III also said the government was planning to buy 40 million doses for 20 million people under its free vaccination program.

Health authorities said they would start the trial of the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan as treatment for the coronavirus on Aug. 17. The drug will be given to a hundred patients aged 18 to 74.

Japan in April said it would send the drug manufactured by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. to 38 countries, including the Philippines after clinical trials.

DoH reported 6,958 new infections on Monday, bringing the total to 136,638. The death toll rose to 2,293 after 24 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 633 to 68,159, it said in a bulletin.

DoH said there were 66,186 active cases, 92% of which were mild, 7.2% did not show symptoms, and less than 1% each were severe and critical.

Of the new cases, 4,163 came from Metro Manila, 400 from Laguna, 363 from Rizal, 312 from Cavite and 178 from Bulacan.

More than 1.6 million people have been tested, it said.

Health authorities on Sunday warned the public against buying and selling convalescent plasma — antibody-rich products collected from eligible donors who have recovered from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) — because these are “illegal, reckless and dangerous.”

The Philippine Blood Center and Philippine Red Cross-Port Area are the only certified non-hospital collection facilities, while the Philippine General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center are the only ones allowed to collect plasma for treatment, it said in a statement. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas