90 pct of Filipinos may have been infected with COVID-19, says expert

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2022 03:42 PM

The emergency room of National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City reaches full capacity, Nov. 24, 2022. The NKTI is filled with patients on dialysis, including those with leptospirosis and COVID-19. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — About 90 percent of Filipinos may already have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, an epidemiologist said Tuesday.

This is based on modeling estimates conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, Dr. John Wong said.

"If you look at the Philippines, we're about 90 percent of the population infected," he said in a virtual town hall forum.

Wong, founder and senior technical adviser of health research institution EpiMetrics Inc., disclosed this while discussing about COVID-19 endemicity.

Based on IHME estimates, 76 percent of the world's population had been infected with COVID-19, he said.

"The only reason we don't see that many cases in our case counts is that they also estimated only about 33 percent of infections are detected," Wong said.

While the country's immunity wall from both natural infections and immunizations is high, he said infection-induced immunity is unreliable.

"If we just received a small infected dose, we may not develop immunity or that immunity may not be long-lasting," Wong said.

To date, the Philippines' primary series vaccination rate is only at 64 percent, he said.

The focus now, Wong said, should be on vaccinating the unvaccinated.

After over two years into the pandemic, is the Philippines headed towards endemicity?

Wong said case trends are now a less valid and reliable way to track the pandemic.

Instead, hospitalizations and deaths are more valid and reliable indicators, he said.

Wong said COVID-19 would become endemic should hospitalizations and deaths fall within "acceptable" limits.

Acceptability is a decision of both government and society, he added.

So far, the Philippines has tallied 4 million COVID-19 cases, of which 64,608 have succumbed to the disease. Its active cases stood at 18,507.

As of Sunday, 568 or 9.4 percent of total COVID-19 admissions are in severe and critical cases, latest figures from DOH show.

Courtesy of DOH