With the news of the detection of the country’s first Lambda case and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant being detected, experts advised that vaccination, especially among the vulnerable population, can greatly reduce the risk of severe disease and deaths.
Echoing the health experts’ advice, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. once again urged the public to get themselves vaccinated to be protected from being severely sick or die from any COVID-19 variant and to continue practicing the minimum public health standards.
“Ngayong araw po ang importanteng narinig natin sa ating mga tunay na mga eksperto ay una, wala pong dapat ikabahala na nandiyan na si Lambda variant. Kaisa-isang kaso naman po iyan at kahit ano pa pong variant iyan, pareho din po ang ating sandata: ang ating mask, hugas, iwas, at bakuna,” said Secretary Roque in a press briefing on August 16, 2021.
In the said press briefing, Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma reported that from the latest samples that they have sequenced, the Delta variant has overtaken other variants in terms of the greatest number of variant cases. As of August 12, there are 14 active Delta cases in the country, and 771 individuals who have recovered from the Delta variant.
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 easily as chicken pox, and that 99.5 percent of deaths occurred in the unvaccinated.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvana also highlighted the importance of vaccination in the fight against COVID-19, emphasizing that vaccinating majority of the vulnerable population will result in lowered 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 continue to remain open.
On the Lambda variant, Dr. Salvana said that though it is said to may have an effect on 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 yet the Lambda variant of interest, and stressed that the Delta variant is still more threatening at this point.
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 to a drastic lowering of the number of cases, Dr. De Guzman said there is less reduction in mobility now compared to last April.
De Guzman added that while the current increase in cases will continue, there are interventions that can be done to slow it down and to prevent more severe and critical cases and deaths, such as vaccination and immediate case detection, isolation, and quarantine.
For the public, Dr. De Guzman advised to continue doing Mask, Hugas, Iwas, ensure good ventilation, get vaccinated and complete vaccine doses as scheduled, and to isolate and quarantine when in doubt.
On another matter, Sec. Roque said that as of August 15, 2021 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, or P3,299,290 000.00 mula sa total na mahigit na labing-isang bilyong piso, or P11,256,348,000.00,” Roque said. ###