DOH: Another wave of cases possible by mid-year amid low booster uptake

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13) — Health officials on Friday warned the public of a possible spike in COVID-19 cases by mid-year.

Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire shared their recent projection which showed new peak in weekly cases and hospitalizations higher than the Delta and Omicron wave in Metro Manila.

This is projected to happen if a new variant comes in, and booster uptake remains low:

SCENARIO A:

Weekly cases could reach 7,702 by July 27 with the presence of an immune-escaping variant-it's the kind of SARS-Cov 2 that evades the antibodies from vaccine and previous infection that fight the virus.

With this, a total of 5,512 people are expected to be hospitalized, and 1,124 will be severe and in critical condition by end of July.

SCENARIO B:

But if a variant that is both immune-escaping and more transmissible comes in, weekly cases in Metro Manila could hit 14,606 by June 23.

A total of 9,861 will be hospitalized and 1,954 people will be in Intensive Case Unit (ICU) by July 29.

This is higher than the number of hospitalized people during the Delta and Omicron waves, 4,413 last September 16, and 3,556 last January 14, respectively.

The numbers of those projected to be in ICU are also higher than the 1,272 patients in September 22 (Delta wave) and 652 last January 12 (Omicron wave).

This is even if 500,000 people get boosted monthly.

Courtesy: DOH

"Ang ating bakuna, ang main purpose is [for us] to be protected versus severe and critical, and even deathskaya importante sa projection, pinakita gaano tataas ang severe and critical cases sakali bumaba ang immunity natin at pumasok ang variants of concern na transmissible and can escape immunity," Vergeire said.

[Translation: The main purpose of COVID-19 vaccines is to protect us against severe and critical disease, and even death. The projection is important as it shows how the possible rise of severe and critical cases if our immunity wanes, and if there are more transmissible variants of concern that can also escape immunity from the vaccines.]

Vergeire reminded the public, the body's protection from the virus declines after a couple of months. A booster shot is needed to maintain a person's defense against hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 infection.

But health officials said booster vaccinations have been slowing down in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the local coronavirus outbreak.

Last April, 237,883 people got an additional COVID-19 shot, which is just 1.67% of the target population.

"Ito ay mas mababa ng 87% kung ikukumpara 1.8 million plus booster na naiturok noong January 2022. Assuming ganito ang rate ng pagbibigay ng booster at may dumating na bagong variant na mas transmissible at may kakayanan mag-escape ng immunity… inaasahan natin ang peak ng kaso ng ospital at ICU admissions sa darating na Hulyo 2022," Vergeire said.

[Translation: This is lower by 87% if we are to compare to 1.8 million plus booster shots given last January 2022. Assuming this will be the rate in giving booster and a new variant which is more transmissible comes and can escape immunity, we expect the peak of cases in the hospital and ICU admission by July 2022.]