COVID situation in PH indicates endemic state may be near: health expert

Michael Joe Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2022 04:02 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2022 04:37 PM

A pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site under Barangay Culiat's health center offers booster shots in Quezon City on September 5, 2022.  Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
A pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site under Barangay Culiat's health center offers booster shots in Quezon City on September 5, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – An infectious diseases specialist on Wednesday said the COVID-19 situation in the country is showing indicators that its endemic state may be nearing.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at San Lazaro Hospital, said the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has been on a downtrend and most cases are only showing mild symptoms.

He added the hospitals are already stable, with some seeing a significant decrease in COVID-19 admissions.

“When you say endemic, [it] means that cases are really already low,” Solante said. 

“Ang ibig sabihin ng pandemic, mataas ang mga kaso, mataas ang nagpupunta sa (Pandemic means there are a lot of cases and there are a lot of patients in the) hospital. That’s why you have to call it pandemic because you want to lessen and mitigate the number of cases. Sa ngayon, hindi na natin nakikita ‘to," he explained.

"In fact, a lot of countries are already opening the borders, a lot of countries are already increasing the mobility of people. May mga concert na. May mga gatherings na. And that is not the picture of a pandemic. Parang endemic na.” 

Solante said COVID-19 may be in an endemic state in the Philippines if the positivity rate is less than 10 percent, the healthcare utilization rate is less than 50 percent, and at least 50 percent of the population have received their booster shots against the disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday that 1,554 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the country, raising the total to 3,971,455.

As of Oct. 10, more than 73.3 million people in the country are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, of whom, over 20.1 million have received their first booster dose while more than 3 million have gotten their second booster shots.

The DOH has also said it is seeing encouraging signs that could pave the way for the lifting of the country’s state of calamity due to the respiratory disease.

"Sa tingin ko (I think), with this plateauing of cases, improved vaccination coverage and minimal na severe and critical admissions in hospitals, we can recommend to the president itong lifting itong state of calamity," Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Once the state of calamity is lifted, Solante said COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be free.

“Vaccines are given via EUA because we are still in the state of emergency," he explained.

"So, ‘pag natanggal na rin ‘yan, ‘yung mga bakuna, [wala] na ‘yang emergency use authority, ibebenta na ‘yan. Bibilihin na natin ‘yan, wala ka nang libre sa gobyerno.”

(So when that is lifted, vaccines no longer have an emergency use authorization. They will be sold, and the public will have to buy them.)

The Philippines logged its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30, 2020 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.



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