An official of the Department of Health on Friday said the Philippines is ready to face Deltacron, a combination of the highly contagious Delta and Omicron variants of the coronavirus.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje issued the remark when asked if the country's health system is prepared for a possible infection rate amid the warning of the World Health Organization.
"I think based on our experience in the past and many experiences that we have gathered throughout the response in the pandemic, we should be ready to face another variant of concern," Cabotaje told ANC.
The IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille, however, said it is too soon to know whether Deltacron infections will be very transmissible or cause severe disease.
The hybrid variant was reportedly discovered in a Cyprus lab as early as January. It was first believed to be likely the result of lab contamination.
Meanwhile, Cabotaje said the shelf life of around 12 million to 13 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was extended.
"There are also requests for approval of extension for Gamaleya being processed. We are also looking at some Pfizer and Moderna that may be extended," she said.
Some of the vaccines may expire by March or April, according to Cabotaje.
Cabotaje also said the use of the vaccines developed by Russia's Gamaleya were affected by the delayed delivery of vaccines last year. She was asked if the preference for vaccines was affected by tensions in Ukraine.
"Not likely," she said.
"Except we had a problem with Gamaleya use and preference. Initially, there was good uptake of Gamaleya but when we had the problem middle of and late last year when the second doses did not arrive on time... so the citizens are now hesitant to get their Gamaleya shots, thinking they might not get their second shot," she added.
On Thursday, the Philippines logged 592 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the nationwide tally to 3,668,940 and active cases to 47,173. — RSJ, GMA News