Filtered By: Topstories

Philippines nearing COVID-19 endemic stage, says health expert

The country is already nearing its transition from a pandemic to an endemic state of the coronavirus disease, infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said Wednesday.

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, Solante was asked if the Philippines is still far from shifting to an endemic stage, considering the eased face mask restrictions and the current vaccination uptake.

“Malapit na. Sa tingin ko, maaabot din natin ‘yan. We just have to continue our ginagawa ngayon para maabot natin ‘yun,” he said.

(We’re near that. I think we can reach that. We just have to continue what we are doing right now so we can reach the endemic stage.)

It was in April when another infectious diseases expert, Dr. Edsel Salvana, said that the country was already seeing signs of endemicity due to its improved healthcare utilization rate and decreasing COVID-19 infections.

Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire explained earlier that endemic is “a state wherein cases are stable, already constant, and predictable.” With this, there should be a balance between the level of transmission and immunity, she added.

The country on Tuesday recorded 1,554 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the active tally down to 25,004.

Meanwhile, at least 73.3 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 20.1 million have received their booster shots.

Omicron-specific vaccines

Further, Solante pointed out that immunogenicity data on the second-generation COVID-19 vaccines targeting the Omicron variant showed that they could produce better antibodies and protection compared to the first generation vaccines.

“Kung mapanatili natin ‘yung wall of immunity against these variants, may chance na hindi na siya mag-mutate with the same Omicron. But again, it is not something na definite kasi the ability of this virus na pwede siyang mag-mutate again, especially the Omicron lineage, nandun pa rin,” he said.

(If we can maintain the wall of immunity against these variants, there is a chance that the Omicron will not mutate. But again, it is not something definite because the ability of this virus to mutate again, especially the Omicron lineage, is still there.)

“We’re hoping that with the Omicron lineage, mapahina natin ito, but the prospect of other variants of concern, nandun pa rin hanggang hindi natin maputol ang transmission,” he added.

(We're hoping to weaken the Omicron lineage, but the prospect of other variants of concern is still there until we can break the transmission.)

Vergeire earlier said that the DOH has been coordinating with vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer for the country’s procurement of Omicron-specific vaccines.

She also said the government is eyeing to buy these new generation COVID-19 vaccines by the first quarter of 2023. — RSJ, GMA News