Following the detection of the first Lambda case and the increasing numbers of Delta COVID-19 variants in the country, health experts advised to ramp up the vaccination rollout, especially among the vulnerable population.
During yesterday’s press briefing (August 16), Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque reiterated the advice of health experts, urging the public to get themselves vaccinated to be protected from being severely sick or die from any COVID-19 variant.
He also encouraged to continue practicing the minimum health standards.
Delta variant updates
Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma reported that the Delta variant has overtaken other variants in the most significant number of variant cases from the latest samples they have sequenced.
As of August 12, only 14 active Delta cases are left in the country, while 771 individuals have recovered.
Dr. Saloma also underscored some of the new information about the Delta variant, including the fact that the risk of reinfection in Delta may be higher versus the Alpha variant, it appears to cause more severe illness, it spreads quickly as chickenpox, and that 99.5 percent of deaths occurred in the unvaccinated.
Thus, the importance of vaccination, as infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana highlighted. He emphasized that vaccinating the majority of the vulnerable population will lower death rates by as much as 90 percent. Dr. Salvana added that even if case numbers are high, if only a few will develop severe disease, the healthcare system will not be overwhelmed, and the economy can remain open.
“Lamba, not yet a threat“
On the Lambda variant, Dr. Salvana said that though it may affect the efficacy of vaccines, such claims remain unproven. He added that even the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not even consider the Lambda variant of interest yet, and stressed that the Delta variant is still more threatening at this point.
Effects of ECQ status
Meanwhile, Department of Health (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Alethea de Guzman mentioned that the mobility of people during the latest implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) has slightly slowed down. However, compared to the ECQ in April 2021 that resulted in a drastic lowering of the number of cases, Dr. De Guzman said there is less mobility reduction now than last April.
De Guzman added that interventions such as vaccination and immediate case detection, isolation, and quarantine will continue to slow down the increasing cases and prevent more severe and critical cases and deaths.
Moreover, he advised the public to continue doing Mask, Hugas, Iwas, as well as ensure good ventilation, get vaccinated and complete vaccine doses as scheduled, and isolate and quarantine when in doubt.
Roque, on the other hand, said that as of August 15, and based on data from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, 29.31 percent of the national government’s financial assistance for ECQ affected individuals and families in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been distributed by the NCR LGUs.
“Katumbas ito ng mahigit tatlong bilyong piso (This is equivalent to over three billion pesos), or P3,299,290 000.00 mula sa total na mahigit na labing-isang bilyong piso (from a total of over eleven billion pesos), or P11,256,348,000.00,” Roque said.