COVID cases expected to rise in areas with low vaccination rate: expert


Posted at May 19 2022 02:04 PM | Updated as of May 19 2022 02:30 PM

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MANILA - COVID-19 cases in areas with low vaccination rate are expected to rise following the detection of more omicron BA.2.12.1 cases in the country, an infectious disease expert said Thursday.

The government recently announced there are three additional patients with the highly transmissible sublineage of BA.2 in Western Visayas, bringing the total number nationwide to 17. 

The unvaccinated and vulnerable sectors such as the elderly, immunocompromised, and health workers are more susceptible to the respiratory disease, said Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the government's vaccine expert panel.

"Ang expectation natin, tataas ang kaso especially (in) those areas na mababa ang vaccination rate. Importante dito, alam natin ang variant or sublineage na 'to ay napakataas ang transmissibility," he said in a televised press briefing.

(We expect cases will increase especially in those areas with low vaccination rate. It's important we know this variant or siblineage has a high transmissibility.)

"There’s a possibility, malaki ang possibility na tumaas ang kaso (there's a big possibility cases will increase), but I don't think it will be enough to affect our hospitalization rate."

The increase in cases in some Metro Manila areas is also expected as it has a "very dense" population, Solante said. The rise in infections were not significant, according to Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Two cases of the BA.2.12.1 were detected in the capital region, who are relatives. Both were fully vaccinated and have since recovered.

Solante said the dominant BA.2 can again cause a rise in cases following "superspreader events" during the elections.

"Tinitingnan natin yung uptick ng cases beginning 2nd week after the election especially yung pagpasok ng sublineage BA.2.12.1," he said.

(We're looking at the uptick of cases beginning 2nd week after the election, especially after the entry of sublineage BA.2.12.1.)

"Until June 'yan kung merong pagtataas ng kaso. If there is community transmission, tataas ang kaso because of the highly transmissible sublineage BA.2.12.1."

(If there will be a rise in cases, it will last until June. If there is community transmission, cases will increase because of the highly transmissible sublineage BA.2.12.1.)

As of Monday, some 68 million or 76.29 percent of the eligible 90 million population in the country have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, according to the Department of Health. 

Of those with primary doses, 13.6 million have received their booster shots.