Flu, pneumonia vaccines may help protect vs new coronavirus, 2 doctors say

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2020 07:39 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2020 07:54 PM

People scramble to buy face masks in a medical supply store a day after the Philippine government confirmed its first novel coronavirus case, in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 31, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA—Getting vaccinated against flu and pneumonia may help protect people against the new coronavirus, a health expert said Wednesday.

"Magpabakuna kayo because it might save your life. Kahit wala pa tayong nCoV na vaccine, meron naman tayong vaccine sa trangkaso at sa iba't ibang bagay, sa pneumonia," Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the National Institute of Health (NIH) said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay press forum. 

(Get vaccinated because it might save your life. Though we don't have a vaccine against nCoV, we have vaccines for flu and pneumonia.)

He said the majority of the 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) fatalities had underlying health problems.

"Kasi nga 'yong mga namatay sa nCoV... karamihan do'n, 70 percent, meron silang preexisting illness, or matandang-matanda or batang-bata... Mas mabubuhay ka kung healthy ka," added Salvana, director of the NIH's Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

(Those who died because of nCoV... About 70 percent of them had preexisiting illness or they were too old or too young... You'll survive if you're healthy.)

The second confirmed case in the Philippines, a 44-year-old man from Wuhan, China, died of severe pneumonia.

"Kung nabakunahan sana siya, baka hindi siya namatay," Salvana said.

Meanwhile, another medical doctor urged the elderly to get vaccinated because they are more at risk in getting infections. 

"Anybody above 50 to 55 years old, basta meron underlying disease—mahina ang baga, chronic asthma, may diabetes na uncontrolled, cardiovascular conditions—[it would be] best magpabakuna na kayo against pneumonia because that would really help protect or reduce your chances of infection," said Dr. Beaver Tamesis, president of the Philippine Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines.

(Anybody who is 50 to 55 years old, has underlying disease— weakened lungs, chronic asthma, uncontrolled diabetes, cardiovascular conditions—it is best for you to get vaccinated against pneumonia because that would really help protect or reduce your chances of infection.)

Flu vaccines, for example, must be taken annually, especially between May to August, Tamesis said.

"It can shorten your illness—from 10 days to as short as 1, 2 days or even just hours or totally protect you against the infection," he said.

To date, there is no medicine to prevent or treat those infected with the new coronavirus, but health authorities are racing to develop a treatment.

The Philippines on Wednesday confirmed its third case of the 2019-nCoV ARD—a 60-year-old woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the respiratory contagion. She has since gone back to China after overcoming the disease. 

Health authorities are also monitoring 133 patients for possible infection of the virus, which has killed nearly 500 in China.