DOH: Years of evaluation needed before COVID-19 can be declared 'endemic'


The Philippines must conduct a three- to five-year evaluation before declaring that COVID-19 has become endemic in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

At a media briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the evaluation will be conducted with the World Health Organization (WHO).

"It's about three to five years of observations, of notations, of taking blood tests or taking swabs kung COVID 'yan [if it’s COVID] among the general population," Vergeire said.

"May mga criteria po na ginagamit para masabi na endemic na po ang isang lugar sa isang sakit. Hindi po porke bumababa na ang mga kaso ay masasabi na nating endemic," she added.

(We use certain criteria in order to declare that a virus is already endemic in an area. We cannot say it is endemic just because cases are going down.)

Vergeire was reacting to the statement of OCTA Research's Dr. Guido David that Cebu City is “probably close” to the endemic stage.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, endemic refers to the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area.

Vergeire advised caution when speaking of such things.

"Kasi po 'yan po pag narinig ng ating mga kababayan, baka maging bunsod na maging complacent ang ating mga kababayan because the disease is already endemic when, in fact, hindi pa natin masasabi," she said.


(Because the public may become complacent if they hear that the virus is already endemic when in fact it's not.)

Vergeire stressed that COVID-19 is still being studied across the globe.

"Tandaan natin ang COVID-19 has a lot of uncertainties and unknowns. Tandaan natin ang ebidensya natin hindi pa kumpleto. We still have a lot of variants which we are still monitoring across the globe," she said.

(Let’s remember that there are still uncertainties and unknowns regarding COVID-19. We should consider that our evidence is not yet complete. We still have a lot of variants that we are still monitoring across the globe.)

OCTA's David on Thursday said that the National Capital Region has returned to its state before the surge in cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Vergeire, however, said the DOH cannot yet say that NCR has reversed the surge of the Delta variant even though cases have gone down and become manageable.

"Because there are still cases ongoing, there are still areas na may mataas ang kaso, meron pa rin pagkapuno ang mga hospital kaya kailangan lahat tayo ay maging maingat muna," she said.

The DOH recently reported 520 additional Delta cases, bringing the total to 5,331.

Meanwhile, the Philippines on Thursday logged 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, marking the second consecutive day where less than 2,000 cases were reported. —KBK, GMA News