Young people may become COVID-19 ‘supercarriers’ if age restrictions are eased, expert warns

Published February 16, 2021, 2:29 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

An expert of the OCTA Research Group has warned that persons under 18 years old may become coronavirus disease (COVID-19) “supercarriers” if the government decides to further ease age restrictions.

A passerby walks in front of the Intramuros Map COVID19 guidelines in front of Manila Cathedral (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Alam naman natin yung bakuna hindi pa naman designed pa para sa below 16 years old. (We know the vaccine is not yet designed for those below 16 years old),” Dr. Guido David said in a TeleRadyo interview on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“Sa palagay natin malaking factor ‘yan kung hindi sila mababakunahan lalo na kung ‘yung variant mas nakakahawa dito sa mga kabataan. (We think that is a big factor if they are not vaccinated especially if the variant appears among young people the most),” he added.

Even if some studies show that mortality rate among young people is low, David said they can infect and pass the virus onto others at a faster rate.
“Ang problema is magiging carrier sila at possible maging supercarrier pa nga sila. (The problem is that they will become carriers or even supercarriers),” he said.

David was also wary of proposals to allow individuals aged five to 70 to go outside their homes.

“Nakakagulat talaga ‘yan kasi five years old mahirap pang ipasunod sa mga health protocols, ‘yun ‘yung magiging problema natin. (That is really surprising because it is difficult to ask five-year-olds to comply with proper health protocols. That will be our problem,” he said.

He noted how the government has been successful in balancing the opening of the economy and observing proper health protocols since October because of gradual easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila.

“Pero kung suddenly magbubukas tayo, may risk talaga na tumaas ‘yung bilang ng kaso lalo na hindi natin alam ‘yung extent ng variant na mayroon na tayo dito. (But if we suddenly open the economy, there is a big risk that the number of cases will increase, especially since we do not know the extent of the COVID-19 variant we already have here),” David said.

David asked the government to fast-track the vaccination rollout before easing quarantine restrictions.

“Sana nga mapabilis ‘yung bakuna hindi ‘yung MGCQ ang mapabilis. (Hopefully, they will speed up the rollout of vaccination, not the implementation of a modified general quarantine),” he added.