MANILA — The highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant is rapidly overtaking other variants in terms of samples submitted for study, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said on Monday.
"Nationally, based on submitted samples to us, mga 42 percent na po ng ating total sequences ang Delta," said PGC Executive Director Cynthia Saloma.
(Nationally based on submitted samples to us, the Delta variant makes up 42 percent of total sequences.)
The Delta variant only accounted for about 3.8 percent of genome sequencing samples in May and around 5.8 percent in June, she said.
"This [increase] is more noticeable in the National Capital Region," Saloma said in a Palace press briefing.
The Delta variant made up about 68 percent of samples in Metro Manila in July, up from just 10.56 percent in June, she said.
"Nakikita po natin na ang mga Delta po ay nagti-take over na sa ating Alpha and Beta cases," said Saloma.
(We see that Delta cases are now overtaking our Alpha and Beta cases.)
The health department has confirmed 807 Delta cases, 2,483 Beta cases, and 2,232 Alpha cases, she noted.
Saloma said Delta cases were “very, very few” in May, and were mostly detected in Filipinos from abroad. The tally of Delta cases rose to around 70 in June, and spiked tenfold to 721 in July, she added.
Experts, she said, still needed to validate whether or not the Delta variant causes more severe illness.
The variant — first detected in India, where it bogged down the health system — spreads as easily as chickenpox and is more transmissible than ebola, common cold, and small pox, Saloma said.
"That’s why we really need to not only vaccinate, but also to wear the masks even if already vaccinate," she told the public.
"Vaccinated people carry huge amounts of the virus, can just be as contagious as unvaccinated people," added the PCG official.
Even so, vaccinated people experienced milder symptoms compared to those who have yet to receive their jabs, she said.