New subvariants finding it hard to get through 'wall of immunity': OCTA

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2022 02:43 PM | Updated as of May 23 2022 03:05 PM

People exit the Quiapo Church after hearing the Friday Mass on March 11, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News]
People exit the Quiapo Church after hearing the Friday Mass on March 11, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines' COVID-19 cases are not expected to rise beyond 10,000 new infections daily, independent research group OCTA said Monday. 

The new omicron subvariants are finding it difficult to get through the country's "wall of immunity," according to Prof. Guido David.

The country has so far detected 17 cases of the BA.2.12.1, a sublineage of the dominant BA.2, and one case of the more transmissible BA.4.

"Ang BA.4 na nakita natin sa Africa, tumaas ang kaso up to 10,000 per day. Sa tingin natin, 'di naman tayo lalagpas ng 10,000. Of course, 2 na sila ngayong binabantayan natin," he said in a televised briefing.

(The BA.4 in Africa caused an increase in cases of up to 10,000 per day. We don't think we will go beyond 10,000. Of course, we're monitoring 2 variants now.)

"Sana naman 'di ganun kataas ang cases na makikita natin. So far, nakikita natin nahihirapan makalusot itong variants sa ating wall of immunity."

(We hope the increase in cases won't reach that high. So far, we can see these variants are finding it difficult to get through our wall of immunity.)

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 68.6 million individuals, of whom 13.7 million have received their first booster as of May 16, according to the Department of Health. The government has begun administering second booster shots to the elderly, immunocompromised, and health workers.

The slight increase in virus cases in the last three days might be due to the subvariants and not the elections, David said.

"Maaaring effect ito ng bagong subvariant... 'Yung election, more than 2 weeks ago na. Itong nakikita nating upticks ng cases, maliit pa lang sa ngayon, maaaring related sa new variant," he said.

(This could be an effect of the new subvariant... The election happened more than two weeks ago already. These upticks in cases are still small and could be related to the new variant.)

Some areas in Metro Manila had an increase in infections, with the capital region's reproduction number rising to 1.05, David said.

"Maliit palang naman ito. We're still at low risk kasi mababa pa hospital utilization, mababa (low) positivity rate 1.2 percent," he said.

A rise in cases was also observed in South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, and Palawan, David said. These areas remain at low risk and the increase in virus patients was not alarming, he added.

It is important for the public to get vaccinated and boosted, and to follow minimum health standards, according to David. A border restriction is not recommended at this time, he said.

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Video courtesy of PTV