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DOH projects possible increase of severe, critical COVID-19 cases by August

Citing the waning immunity of the public, the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday warned of a possible increase in severe and critical COVID-19 cases by August.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country’s severe and critical cases are currently stable and hospitals are not overwhelmed.

“There is this projection that maybe by, it might happen, that by August, our hospitalizations will increase and there would be more severe and critical cases because of the waning immunity of the population,” Vergeire told ANC.

She said there is waning immunity due to the slow uptake of booster shots.

Later at a media briefing, Vergeire said the projections were made by Autumn.

Vergeire said the assumptions made by Autumn include a reduction in compliance to minimum health standards, the country’s booster uptake, and the entrance of the Omicron subvariants.

“Magkakaroon po tayo ng pagtaas ng pagkakaospital pagdating ng mga August of this year. And this would be around 4,800… mas mataas po ang hospitalization na projected na ito kaysa nung nagkaroon tayo nung Delta variant,” she said.

(We will have an increase this coming August. And this would be around 4,800… this projection is higher compared to during the Delta variant.)

However, she stressed that the projections “are not cast in stone.”

Vergeire previously stressed that maintaining a low number of severe and critical cases is what is important amid the observed increase in COVID-19 cases.

At present, 14.56 million individuals have received their first booster against COVID-19 while around 557,000 have been inoculated with the second dose.

Despite this, Vergeire said making the second booster shot available to the general population who wish to receive it is not the answer.

According to Vergeire, the waning immunity stems from the effect of the transmissible Omicron variant on the primary vaccine series.

“Therefore because of that, all of us who have received our primary series, the first and second dose, should receive the third booster shot,” she said.

The Health undersecretary stressed that only immunocompromised individuals, health workers, and senior citizens may avail of the second booster shot.

Immunocompromised individuals refer to those with immunodeficiency state, HIV, active cancer or malignancy, transplant recipients, undergoing steroid treatment, patients with poor prognosis/bedridden patients, and other conditions of immunodeficiency as certified by physicians.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the average number of new cases per day rose to 270 from 182 per day last week.

“But if you look at the numbers even in the different areas where increasing cases are happening, hindi naman po ganoon kalaki,” she said.

(But if you look at the numbers even in the different areas where increasing cases happening, it's not that big.)

“Actually ang average daily attack rate natin, hindi pa din po tumataas ng more than one or even just two sa Philippines,” she added.

(Actually, our average daily attack rate has not gone over one or even two in the Philippines.)

The Philippines logged 257 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the nationwide tally to 3,693,865, according to the latest data released by DOH.

The new infections brought the country’s active tally to 3,130, from 3,097 on Monday.

More patients recovered from the viral disease, bringing the recovery tally to 3,630,274.

The DOH said the country’s death tally stood at 60,461 with no new deaths reported.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Wednesday that raising the alert level status to 2 is not yet seen by the national government as the metrics set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) still need to be considered following the rise in COVID-19 infections in the country.

“Ang atin kasing metrics para pumunta sa Alert Level 2 ay ‘yung number ng cases at rate ng hospitalization natin. So medyo hindi pa naman tayo papasok diyan sa Alert Level 2. Marami pa tayong titignan na metrics,” he said.

(Our metrics to raise Alert Level 2 include the number of cases and our hospitalization rate. So we're not yet raising Alert Level 2. We still have a lot of metrics to look at.) —KG/RSJ, GMA News