Complacent? Not time to be

Complacent? Not time to be

There are now more than four million Filipinos of the 70 million target population for vaccinations against the coronavirus pandemic.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said of the 10,026,722 who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a total 4,047,792 had received their second dose as of July 14, 2021.

That’s nearly a week after Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said 12,703,081 doses have been administered nationwide, with an average of around 200,000 shots per day.

A total 9,493,839 individuals have received at least one dose, accounting for 13.4 percent of the government’s 70-million target

Roque said that in mid-week, 257,156 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered nationwide.

Since February, the National Task Force against COVID-19 said 20.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered, of which 10.6 million were procured by the government, 900,000 were purchased by the private sector and local government units, 2.1 million doses were donated by other countries, and seven million came from the COVAX facility.

But it is too early, from where we are, to congratulate ourselves, even with the perceived relaxed restrictions. There are variants of the COVID-19 floating in the atmosphere.

Recently, the Department of Health, the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health reported the detection of four additional Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases, 14 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant cases, 21 Beta (B.1.351) variant cases, and one Theta (P.3) variant case based on the latest whole-genome sequencing report.

For instance, three of the four additional Delta variant cases are Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF) from the MV Eastern Hope, a ship currently docked in South Korea. Upon detection of the PCR-positive Filipino crew in South Korea, they were repatriated back to the Philippines on June 3, 2021. Two cases have completed the 10-day isolation after arrival in the country and were discharged upon certification of recovery, while one is still admitted in a hospital in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, the fourth case is a ROF who arrived from Saudi Arabia on May 24, 2021. The case has completed the mandated isolation, tagged as recovered on June 10, 2021, discharged thereafter from the isolation facility, and is now under strict home quarantine as per protocols of the LGU of destination. This brings the total number of Delta cases to 17.

Of the additional 14 Alpha variant cases detected, 12 are local cases while two are being verified as to whether these are local or ROF cases. Based on the case line list, two cases have died and 12 cases have been tagged as recovered. The Alpha variant cases now total 1,085.

Authorities said of the additional 21 Beta variant cases detected, 20 are local cases while one case is being verified as to whether this is a local or ROF case.

Based on the case line list, 20 cases have been tagged as recovered and one case is currently active. The total Beta variant cases are now 1,267.

The additional Theta variant case is currently being verified as to whether this is a local or ROF case. The case has already been tagged as recovered.

Currently, the Theta variant is not identified as a variant of concern since more data is needed to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications.

The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH assure the public that biosurveillance activities for the detection of COVID-19 variants shall continue amidst the increase in cases in Visayas and Mindanao.

The procurement of reagents for whole genome sequencing for the rest of the year was initiated by a grant of P180 million by the DOH to the UP-PGC last May 2021. After undergoing the government procurement process, the reagents shall arrive at the UP-PGC this week. These reagents will allow the DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH to sequence samples of COVID-19 cases regularly until the end of the year, ensuring that the government will have essential information in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Another area of concern is the report that several Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines – the quantity not disclosed – will go to waste after the storage facility in a major vaccination site in Alabang, Muntinlupa encountered issues, local government officials said last week.

The vaccination activities in Festival Mall will be temporarily suspended while they are fixing the storage facility, Muntinlupa City said in a statement. The vaccines stored in the facility will not be used to ensure safety and efficacy, it said.

In its statement in Tagalog, the local government unit said “Based on our initial investigation, there was a change in the temperature, which may affect the quality of the vaccines. We decided not to use the vaccines. It’s better to be safe.”

Vaccines are supposed to be stored at a specific temperature identified by the manufacturer to ensure its quality.

Yet another concern is the report by the Department of Health Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (DOH RESU-7) which said Central Visayas was now on the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview on Unang Balita, Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Caña, chief of DOH RESU-7, said, “Yes. We are in a third wave now.”

“We have been monitoring the cases for the last 4 weeks in Central Visayas, not just Cebu City and our epidemic curve shows an upward trend,” Caña said.

According to Caña, the main reason for the upward trend was the more transmissible variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“The virus keeps on evolving as it is its nature to mutate resulting in different variants which increases the virus’ transmissibility,” Caña said. (ai/mtvn)

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