Vaccine optimism possible cause of Covid-19 surge in PH: WHO

Vaccine optimism possible cause of Covid-19 surge in PH: WHO

MANILA – An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said the current surge of infections of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country has been observed to be also occurring recently in other parts of the world.

In a Zoom presser, WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said one of the possible causes of the rise in Covid-19 infections was “vaccine optimism,” a phenomenon that was observed to occur in countries where the rollout of vaccines for Covid-19 has begun.

“The arrival of the vaccines and the optimism that the vaccines brought has resulted in the decreased compliance in public health protocols. At a community level, it has opened room for the virus transmission to increase,” Abeyasinghe said.

A similar spike in new infections, he said, is occurring in developed countries that have been administering Covid-19 vaccines to its population for several months, such as the United States and France.

He said the recent focus on planning for a vaccine rollout at the local government level may also have resulted in lapses in the implementation of minimum public health standards such as wearing face masks, shields, observing physical distancing, among others.

“Because there was the optimism that the vaccines will come, that the economy will bounce back. But this infection has demonstrated again that we have to be very careful,” Abeyasinghe said.

Another possible reason, he added, was the increased transmissibility of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

To date, these variants of concern that have been detected in the country include the B.1.1.7 variant originally found in the United Kingdom, the B.1.351 variant identified in South Africa, and the P.1 variant identified in Brazil.

He said the P.3 variant, first detected in the Philippines, is still being studied, adding the local variant of the virus has not been observed to have “any increase in transmissibility.”

According to the DOH’s Covid-19 bulletin on Friday, there were a total of 7,103 new infections in the country, with the active cases now at 73,264 or 11.3 percent of all Covid-19 cases in the country. (PNA)

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