Vaccine expert panel head tells public, be extra careful amid COVID variants’ presence in PHL

Avoid mass gatherings to avoid virus transmission, mutation, Dr. Gloriani says


(Eagle News) — The head of the vaccine expert panel said that the presence of more transmissible variants in the country, including the latest B.1.617.2 first detected in India, is enough reason for the public not to let their guard down even if Metro Manila and surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal have shifted into General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.

Dr. Nina Gloriani, the head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) vaccine expert panel, said that the important thing is to prevent transmission, which is why public is continually advised to avoid mass gatherings.  It is also important to strictly observe minimum health protocols.

-Higher transmissibility of new virus variants-

When people congregate, there is more transmission of the virus.  The more that there is transmission, the more likelihood of virus mutations.

Mas mataas ang transmission nito ngayon, higher than the others,” Dr. Gloriani said referring to the various COVID-19 variants present in the country, especially in Metro Manila.

So iwasan natin talaga ang pagtitipon-tipon, yung mass gathering, kasi yun ang nakakapagpataas ng transmission,” she said in an interview with Balitalakayan aired on NET25 on Monday, May 17.

Recently, 10 more cases of the Indian variant of the virus were detected in the country bringing to 12 the confirmed number of such cases in the Philippines.  More cases of the other COVID variants have been detected in the country.  All these variants are highly transmissible.  At least three of these variants — the Indian variant, the South African variant, and the Brazil variant — are said to have immune escape mechanisms that vaccine developers are still trying to address.

-Low immunization coverage, so far-

Gloriani noted that the immunization coverage in the country is still low.

Ang ating immunization coverage ay mababa pa,” Dr. Gloriani said. “So we have to wait a while, konting tiis pa until the end of the year.”

Treating and managing the COVID-19 virus variants is however still the same, whether this is the B.1.1.7 (UK variant), the B.1.351 (South African variant), the P1 (Brazil variant), and the latest being the Indian variant or the B.1.617.2

“The same minimum public health standards should apply,” she said.

Gloriani also noted that the government is doing its best to vaccinate more people, as more vaccine supplies come in. The country hopes to achieve herd immunity by year-end.

Ang assumption dyan ay darating ang bakuna. And we procured a lot.  Alam ko na na-negotiate lahat yan,” she said.

Until there is enough people who have been vaccinated, everyone should be careful and continue to observe minimum health protocols — proper and frequent handwashing, observing 1 to 2 meters of physical distance, avoiding large crowds and mass gatherings, and frequent sanitation of homes and work area.  Add to this is the advice to ensure proper ventilation of spaces since the virus is now airborne.

-Extra precautions until year-end to prevent see-saw in cases-

“Lahat tayo we should continue to be very very careful,” she said referring to both those who had been vaccinated, and to those who haven’t got the jab yet.

Nag-see-seesaw tayo. we have to be very conscious na siguro untl the end of the year ganito tayo,” she said noting the erratic movement of cases amid the presence of virus variants.

Public urged to get COVID jabs-

In the meantime, she urged the public to register for vaccines, and get immunized as soon as the vaccines are available.  This will prevent them from getting the  severe COVID-19.

She also hopes that the Philippines can develop its own vaccine against the virus.

“Sana we can do that soon, I think in the next five to 10 years,” she added.


(Eagle News Service)