MANILA – Public health advocate Tony Leachon on Saturday said emerging COVID-19 variants should not be feared, as long as mask mandates and vaccinations continue to prevent severe cases of the disease.
Leachon brought this up, as new omicron subvariants entered the Philippines, with omicron BA.5 subvariant being the latest.
"Hindi po dapat kayo matakot sa mga variant as long as ’yung inyong mask at ang inyong pagbakuna ay nandoon kahit dalawang bakuna 2 primary vaccines you'll be protected lalo na sa panahon ngayon," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
Leachon said Filipinos now have increased immunity against the virus as the government ramped up its vaccinations, combined with the natural immunity the population developed during the omicron surge last January.
"Dahil po nabakunahan na po ang mga Pilipino ng dalawa at boosters... Tumapang bigla ang mga Pilipino na tumanggap ng maraming variants. So kahit ano'ng dumating na variant ang tingin ko – tapos nagkaroon pa ng natural immunity ... 'Yan ay nagpatapang na sa atin," he said.
With the help of some accessible rapid antigen tests, Leachon said the public can now also immediately test themselves when experiencing coronavirus symptoms and isolate, freeing hospitals with additional patients since most cases are mild.
" 'Yun hong BA.5 na 'yan ay anak ng omicron. 'Yan ay lumalabas sa mga countries na mababa ang vaccination. Itong BA.5 at galing ho ng Africa pero mild na naman po ang cases at hindi po nagtala ng maraming namamatay," he said.
"Be adaptable to the present condition so that the economy will bounce back para pagkatapos nitong COVID pandemic na ito we can work on the universal health care implementation."
As of late last month, the Department of Health (DOH) said 679 or 12.3 percent of COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals are in severe and critical condition.
The figure was lower than the previous week's 718 severe and critical patients that accounted for 12.9 percent of COVID-19 hospital admissions at the time.
ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group also said that this was also the first time in two years, or since the week of March 2 to 8, 2020, that the DOH reported no COVID-19 related deaths for the week.
Some 69 million people have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, of whom 14.1 million have received their booster shots.