MANILA - The coronavirus continues to mutate as there are not yet enough people in the world immunized against it, a vaccine expert said Friday.
Some 54 percent of the world's 7.8 billion population have received a first dose, while 46 percent have yet to receive a jab, according to Dr. Melvin Sanicas, citing latest figures.
"Until we’ve vaccinated majority or at least 70 percent or 80 percent of people in the world, we will expect to see these kinds of mutations, especially in countries with bigger population," he said in a Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum.
"And in countries where-- for example, in South Africa, one reason being mentioned by experts kung bakit (why) they are seeing these variants is there are substantial amount of people in South Africa with HIV...They’re not able to fight the coronavirus efficiently so tumatagal ang infection (infections are prolonged)."
The World Health Organization will meet later Friday to decide if the new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, first detected in South Africa, should be designated a variant of interest or a variant of concern.
The dominant COVID-19 variant in the Philippines is the Delta variant, first reported in India, which comprises 38.29 percent or 7,038 out of 18,383 sequenced samples with lineages, according to health department data as of Monday.
The Philippines has fully vaccinated 34.6 million people, while 43.9 million have received an initial dose as of Thursday, according to data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
It aims to inoculate 15 million more people during its 3-day nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 in a bid to immunize 50 million by yearend.
It is important for the public to reduce their risk of getting infected with COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and practicing minimum health standards, Sanicas said.
"As long as we're still in this pandemic, people should be really careful and put it upon themselves to really reduce the risk. We know what works...These things we should have this as parang second-nature na talagang (that) every time you go into a place, [you ask]: Are the windows open? Is the ventilation good?" he said.
"Hopefully, more people will learn this, it's all about reducing your risk and we know what works and we should do them all as much as we can."
Meanwhile, the province of Sorsogon in the Bicol region has yet to receive some 125,000 doses prior to the nationwide vaccination drive which starts on Monday, Governor Francis "Chiz" Escudero said. The province can vaccinate 65 percent of its eligible population before Christmas, he added.