By Rizal Obanil
A former health official said that the difference between COVID-19 and other deadly diseases is that it is “explosive” or can multiply exponentially.
In an interview Tuesday on CNN Philippines’ The Source, hosted by Pinky Webb, former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Manuel Dayrit said: “But the difference with COVID-19 is that it’s ‘explosive’. It’s very explosive. In fact, it has a reproductive rate of three on the average.”
Asked by the host to explain what he meant when he said COVID-19 had a “reproductive rate of three”, the former health official said: “What that means is, yes, one case infects three in the first generation. These three cases can infect another three each, (which adds up to) nine and so on and so forth.”
He answered in the positive when asked whether COVID-19’s reproductive rate seemingly had a “multiplier effect”.
Earlier in the interview, Dayrit explained why there was seemingly a rise in the number of cases in countries where there was none initially and this was what he said: “That’s what you’re (we’re) worrying about on COVID-19. In fact, case fatality rate is quite high. They’re computing it around 2 percent but it could actually be higher and they are saying there are a lot of mild infections that they haven’t detected and therefore they’re saying it’s lower. But if we compare it (COVID) with H1N1, influenza, the case fatality for influenza was .01, much, much lower than COVID-19. In comparison to MERS-COV, MERS-COV had a case fatality rate of 35 (percent)…. And SARS had a case fatality rate of 10, 10 percent.”
The former health secretary pointed out that there is the problem of non-availability of test kits to determine whether a patient has COVID-19 or not.
“Exactly, so what’s probably happening in Europe right now is that the cases that have spread out have actually multiplied themselves already exponentially. But because the testing for COVID-19 is not very, very systematic, the available test kits, they’re not commonly available. Therefore because they’re not testing it (thus) the cases are flying under the radar,” Dayrit said.
So far the Philippines has only recorded three cases of COVID-19, even though the fatalities in other countries have already reached thousands.
What’s more encouraging is that of the said cases only one patient died after testing positive for COVID-19.
The lone fatality was a 44-year-old man who visited the country from Wuhan, China. He was actually the second reported case of COVID-19, then, still referred to as novel-coronavirus.
His death was reported by the DOH on February 2, 2020.