WHO backs 3rd COVID-19 vaccine shot for elderlies, immunocompromised

Robie de Guzman   •   October 14, 2021   •   296

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday expressed support to proposals seeking to administer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people who were not able to develop full immunity after receiving two doses.

WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said they are advocating for a third dose for immunocompromised individuals as an extended primary vaccination course.

Senior citizens who also received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine made either by Sinovac or Sinopharm should also be given a third shot of the same vaccine brand.

“Our recommendation is that in addition to immunocompromised individuals, that we include all individuals who have received primary vaccination of two doses with Sinovac or Sinopharm to receive a third dose provided it’s more than 3 months since the completion of their first 2 doses,” he said.

“We don’t have a recommendation for general population,” he added.

The Philippine government has yet to decide on the issue of giving a booster shot but it earlier said it has allocated a budget for its procurement next year.

COVID confirmatory testing should be reserved for symptomatic, vulnerable people – WHO exec

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Targeted testing is a better use of the country’s resources on RT-PCR test, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said, following calls for mass testing amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

With the exponential increase in cases in the country, WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that it would be more prudent “to reserve the testing capacity to test symptomatic people, especially symptomatic elderly and vulnerable people.”

“I think targeted testing is a better use of the resources on RT-PCR test and the hypothesis that if you have a confirmed case in a household and other people are asymptomatic, there is no need to confirm testing, just need to assume that it’s Omicron,” he said during a public briefing.

“On the other hand, it’s also not very useful in testing other asymptomatic people in a household once you have confirmed Omicron case in a household because of the higher transmissibility. They are very likely to get infected or would have already infected,” he added.

Abeyasinghe said that by testing asymptomatic people and the close contacts of COVID positive persons, “we are artificially driving up the positivity rate.”

“It would be far better to use the testing capacity to understand where is the transmission and use that to suppress further transmissions,” he added.

The current surge in the Philippines is believed to be driven by Omicron and Delta variants.

The Philippines on Wednesday logged 32,246 cases, 28,007 cases on Tuesday, and 33,169 last Monday.

But despite the surging cases, Abeyasinghe believes there is no need yet to escalate the alert levels being implemented.

The Philippines’ healthcare system can also manage until about January 27 or 28 if the current COVID-19 trends are maintained, he added.

“We are looking closely at the current Alert Level 3… we are seeing a significant reduction in mobility and if yesterday’s reduction in number is an indication maybe the current alert levels are adequate,” Abeyasinghe said.

“That red line analysis that we have done projects that we can manage the health systems to about the 27/28 of January. Given the trends up to yesterday, with yesterday’s decline, we may be even to manage beyond that,” he added.

Abeyasinghe said alert levels should only be increased if there are signs that the healthcare system is being overwhelmed.

“We are very conscious that we will need to increase those alert levels and increase the restrictions only if we see signs of the healthcare system being overwhelmed. Right now, we don’t see that,” he said.

Rather than further tightening restrictions, he urged the public to continue adhering to public health protocols, and immediately isolate themselves if they have symptoms to reduce the risk of transmission. Vaccination efforts should also be increased to protect people from hospitalization and severe diseases.

No need to upgrade NCR alert level yet amid rising COVID cases, WHO exec says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines ­– There is no need yet to further tighten the restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the COVID-19 Alert Level 3 being imposed in the NCR is sufficient if the reduction in Tuesday’s COVID-19 cases is used as an indication.

“We are looking closely at the current Alert Level 3… we are seeing a significant reduction in mobility and if yesterday’s reduction in number is an indication maybe the current alert levels are adequate,” Abeyasinghe said during a public briefing.

The Philippines on Tuesday recorded over 28,000 new cases, down from the record-high 33,000 logged last January 10.

Abeyasinghe said alert levels should only be increased if there are signs that the healthcare system is being overwhelmed.

“We are very conscious that we will need to increase those alert levels and increase the restrictions only if we see signs of the healthcare system being overwhelmed. Right now, we don’t see that,” he said.

The WHO official said the Philippines may be able to manage the current surge if the decline in new COVID cases will continue.

“Projections are that the Philippines may be able to avert that if even if current trends are continued until about the end of this month, meaning that red line analysis that we have done projects that we can manage the health systems to about the 27/28 of January. Given the trends up to yesterday, with yesterday’s decline, we may be even to manage beyond that,” he added.

Malacañang earlier said that there is no need yet to escalate the country’s alert levels amid ballooning coronavirus cases as the utilization of the healthcare system remains within the moderate risk level.

Apart from restricting mobility, Abeyasinghe stressed the importance of following the minimum public health standards at an individual level and isolating or quarantining themselves if they have symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 to reduce the risk of transmission.

“[This is to] reduce the need for stricter quarantine because that has very serious economic consequences,” he said.

“We need to try to take that best approach and try to keep the economy open unless we are seeing signs that the current alert levels are not working,” he added.

Malacañang earlier said the government’s task force for COVID-19 response will meet on Thursday to discuss the new alert levels to be implemented after January 15.

Limitasyon sa galaw ng ‘di bakunado vs COVID-19, isinusulong ipatupad sa buong bansa

Robie de Guzman   •   January 5, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Inirerekomenda ni testing czar at presidential adviser for COVID-19 response Vince Dizon na ipatupad sa buong bansa ang pagbabawal sa mga hindi pa bakunado laban sa COVID-19 na pumunta sa mga pampublikong lugar.

Sa gitna ito ng bumibilis na namang pagtaas ng kaso sa bansa at local transmission ng Omicron variant.

“Mr. President, nag-usap na po kami ni Secretary Año, ni Secretary Duque, Secretary Galvez, Secretary Lorenzana na we are recommending that this policy in NCR also be adopted by the entire country even in areas po na hindi pa nagsu-surge dahil alam naman po natin it is really just a matter of time na itong Omicron ay kumalat na sa buong bansa,” ang wika ni Dizon sa pagpupulong ng mga opisyal ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte noong Martes.

Ang rekomedasyon ay batay aniya sa mga ginagawang paghihigpit sa mga bansang nakararanas na ng case surge ng Omicron variant.

“Kung titingnan po natin ang ibang bansa, countries all over the world are restricting the exposure of the unvaccinated. Sa France po, they are cracking down on unvaccinated; Germany, they are locking down unvaccinated people; and even in South Korea po they are now imposing new vaccine passes  para po ano  i-restrict ‘yung movement ng mga unvaccinated,” paliwanag ni Dizon.

Nakatakdang pag-usapan ng IATF ang panukalang ito sa kanilang pagpupulong sa Huwebes.

Ang paglilimita sa galaw ng mga hindi pa bakunado kontra COVID-19 ay una nang iminungkahi ng Metro Manila Council sa pamamagitan ng isang resolusyon.

Ang naturang resolusyon ay in-adopt na rin ng Regional Task Force against COVID-19 ng CALABARZON na naghihikayat sa lahat ng local task forces sa rehiyon na magpatupad na rin ng limitasyon sa paggalaw ng mga di pa bakunado sa nasasakupang probinsya.

Sa kasalukuyan, 65.63 percent na ng target population ang fully vaccinated at 79.42 percent ang nakatanggap ng at least isang dose ng bakuna. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

 

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