Senate President Tito Sotto
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Amidst reports that despite being highly transmissible the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is milder compared to the previous Delta mutation, Senate President and vice-presidential aspirant Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III advised the public not to take the new variant lightly because according to the health experts it still poses as a big threat to people’s health.
Sotto’s advisory came following a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that even with its lesser impact on health, the Omicron variant is killing people across the globe so it should not be dismissed as mild.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the record numbers of people catching the new Covid-19 strain—which is rapidly out-competing the previously-dominant Delta variant in many countries—meant that hospitals were being overwhelmed with the sheer volume of patients and this could result in many others not being properly treated and quarantined.
“While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorized as mild,” Tedros disclosed in a press conference.
“Just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing people and it is killing people. In fact, the tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world,” he pointed out.
Last week, just under 9.5 million new Covid-19 cases were reported to the WHO—a record, up 71 percent on the week before. But even this was an underestimate, the WHO chief said, as it did not reflect the backlog of testing around the Christmas-New Year holidays, positive self-tests not registered, and overburdened surveillance systems missing cases.
Tedros used his first speech of 2022 to slam the way rich nations hogged available vaccine doses last year, saying it had created the perfect breeding ground for the emergence of virus variants. He, therefore, urged the world to share out vaccine doses more fairly in 2022, to end the “death and destruction” of Covid-19.
In this regard, Sotto, who is the running-mate of Partido Reporma standard-bearer Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, enjoined Filipinos who are still hesitant to be vaccinated to seriously consider having themselves inoculated with the available vaccines purchased by the government and administered to them for free, especially now that booster shots are now being given to those who have completed their vaccination.
Meanwhile, his party-mate and senatorial aspirant Guillermo Eleazar agreed with the Senate President, saying that the only way to arrest the further spread of Covid-19 is for the populace to be vaccinated and protected by achieving herd immunity at the soonest possible time.