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No alarming Covid spikes seen in 2023 – OCTA

THE Philippines will not see any “alarming” spikes of Covid-19 in the coming months unless a new variant in the mold of Delta arrives in the country, a senior fellow of OCTA Research said.

Dr. Guido David. File PhotoDr. Guido David. File Photo 

Dr. Guido David said that the country will not see any large increases in cases unlike in 2021, when it experienced the Alpha, Beta, and the lethal Delta variants of the virus.

“These were variants that were causing lower respiratory infections and severe cases. We did not have vaccinations in 2021, but starting 2022, something changed. After the Omicron January surge in 2022, we noticed that the hospitalizations never reached critical levels, and it is a good sign,” David told The Manila Times.

He said that the low hospitalization rate last year was due to the high number of Filipinos who had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

David said that while he expects Covid-19 cases to continue in 2023, he believes that the country “would be okay” if the state of public health emergency is lifted by the World Health Organization in its upcoming meeting on January 27.

“We really do not have much to worry about. Even if cases won’t go down to zero. Even if there is a chance that we will have another wave sometime in 2023, we do not get large numbers than what we did in 2021. Our hospitalizations don’t exceed critical levels, and the number of deaths is now comparable to the daily death rate of flu. I think that is a good indication,” David said.

He added that the current death rate meant that the country is approaching “possible endemicity” of Covid-19.

David, however, warned that the government should be ready to recalibrate its efforts if a highly-infectious and lethal variant comparable to the Delta variant would arrive in the country.

“If we see a new variant in another country which is something similar to Delta that causes severe illness and escapes immunity, we will probably be concerned. We will have to recalibrate our strategies. But if it does not happen, we should be okay,” David said.

He also urged the government to have more clear and transparent data on vaccines, such as their efficacy, possible side effects and safety profile, especially with the government planning to procure bivalent vaccines.

David said that the government should monitor other diseases that could possibly enter the country.

The proposed Center for Disease Control and Prevention would be “helpful” in achieving that purpose.

In a statement, the Department of Health (DoH) said that the country remains prepared even if the state of a public health emergency is lifted by the WHO.

“The virus is here to stay and the Philippines will continue to be cautious and vigilant by continuously practicing our protocols, safeguards, and imposing our current restrictions which are already relatively lenient,” it added.

It said that protocols will be adjusted accordingly if cases will rise.

The DoH is now coordinating with donor countries and the Covax facility for the donation of one million doses of bivalent vaccines while the procurement process is still ongoing.

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