PHILIPPINE HEALTH authorities reported 1,153 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 2.83 million.

The death toll reached 47,482 after 195 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 2,182 to 2.76 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

The agency said there were 18,721 active cases, 55.2% of which were mild, 4.7% were asymptomatic, 13.8% were severe, 20.51% were moderate, and 5.8% were critical.

It said 32% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate for Metro Manila was 31%.

The Health department said 99 duplicates were removed from the tally, 94 of which were tagged as recoveries and one was reclassified as a death.

The agency said 170 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on Nov. 21.

The Philippines on Monday started giving additional doses to seniors and seriously ill people, after it has fully vaccinated nearly half of its target adult population.

On Tuesday, business groups urged the Philippine government to allow the private sector to use the coronavirus vaccines they purchased as booster shots to protect their employees and their dependents.

Since studies show that the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines wanes beyond six months, businesses must be allowed to give their workers top-up shots.

“Without boosters, we increase the risk of another surge which could again shut down the economy,” said the groups in a joint statement by more than 20 business chambers.

“We no longer have a shortage, and with such a large stockpile, we risk having vaccines expire and go to waste.”

The same call was made earlier by the business leader Jose Maria “Joey” A. Concepcion III, the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship.

The Philippines on Tuesday took delivery of more than 682,000 doses of the vaccine made by Moderna, Inc., according to the presidential palace.

This latest shipment of Moderna vaccines was paid for by the Philippine government, acting Presidential Spokesman Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told a televised news briefing.

It will be allotted for the vaccination of minors aged 12 to 17 and booster shots for health frontliners, seniors, and seriously ill people. 

The Philippines has already administered 76.52 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as of Nov. 22, Mr. Nograles said.

Nearly 33.85 million people or 43.88% of adult Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, he said. In Metro Manila, 94.04% or 9.19 million people of the 9.8-million target population have been fully inoculated.

The country is struggling to vaccinate at least 50% of its adult population this year, after it contained a spike in coronavirus cases triggered by a highly contagious virus variant.

A three-day nationwide vaccination campaign is scheduled next week, with the government targeting to inoculate at least 15 million people.

Also on Tuesday, the Office of the Vice President announced that molnupiravir, the first oral antiviral drug for the treatment of coronavirus patients, will be available to patients of its telemedicine program.

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo’s office said in a press release that it signed a deal with QualiMed Health Network on Monday to provide assistance for referred patients prescribed with the drug.

Under the deal, the vice president’s office will issue a guarantee letter under its special medical assistance program to a patient referred by a volunteer doctor under its online consultation program.

The country’s drug regulator has already issued a special permit to allow the use of molnupiravir, developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in hospitals.

The first shipment of molnupiravir arrived in the Philippines on Nov. 17. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza