MANILA — Very few people catch COVID-19 after completing their vaccination, the Philippine drug regulator said on Wednesday, as it sought to allay concerns about whether jabs provide enough protection against the more contagious coronavirus Delta variant.
Indonesia, which has reported record daily cases recently due to a surge in the Delta variant, saw hundreds of medical workers infected by COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with Chinese-made Sinovac shots, officials said earlier this month.
In the Philippines, some 3.7 million people have received at least 1 dose of the Sinovac vaccine as of June 20, said Food and Drug Administration chief Eric Domingo.
In the 4-week interval between their first and second Sinovac shots, 1772 people caught COVID-19. Eleven of them experienced severe symptoms and died, Domingo said in a televised public briefing.
He said among 1.6 million people who have received their second Sinovac jab, only 27 were infected with the novel coronavirus within 14 days, while 33 caught the pathogen 2 weeks from their vaccination. None of them had severe symptoms
"Thirty-three out of 1.6 million is a very, very low percentage," said Domingo.
"Meron pa po na nagkakaroon ng COVID, pero kakaunting-kaunti na lang po, even after the first dose, pero drastically goes down after the second dose," he aded.
(Some still get COVID even after the first dose, but they are very few, and this number drastically goes down after the second dose.)
Meanwhile, some 2.1 million people have received at least one dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 188 of whom caught COVID-19 before their second dose. Eleven died due to severe symptoms, he said.
After the second dose, only 6 had COVID-19, but did not develop severe symptoms, added the official.
People should not compare the figures for Sinovac and AstraZeneca's breakthrough infections because the two vaccines have different interval periods for their first and second jabs, said Domingo.
Sinovac's second dose is given 4 weeks after the first, while the second AstraZeneca jab is received after 8 to 12 weeks, meaning there will be more time for breakthrough infections, he said.
Domingo also noted that the Philippines started the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in April, when coronavirus infections peaked in the capital region and surrounding areas.
He mentioned that at least 321,000 Filipinos have received the COVID-19 vaccine of Pfizer-BioNTech. Five of them caught the respiratory disease in between the first and second doses and none suffered severe symptoms. After the second dose, only one got infected and showed only mild symptoms.
Domingo reminded the public that it is important to complete their vaccination and continue observing health protocols after.
"Wala po talagang 100 percent na efficacy ng vaccine, but we really just have to be careful kahit after vaccination," he said.
(There is no vaccine with 100-percent efficacy, but we really just have to be careful even after vaccination.)
At least 2.5 million Filipinos have received 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Philippines, which has the second highest tally of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, aims to vaccinate at least 58 million of its 110 million people.
— With a report from Reuters