Health workers urged to get inoculated with any available vaccine amid detection of new COVID-19 variants

Published March 3, 2021, 7:19 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

As the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Metro Manila is feared to further increase due to the rapid spread of the UK COVID variant, the OCTA Research Team recommended that health care workers get themselves inoculated immediately to boost their immunity from the virus.

(Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

In a virtual press conference on Wednesday, March 3, OCTA noted that the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila could rise by 45,000 by the end of March to 280,000 cases from the current number of 234,754 due to the B117 or UK variant.

The group also projected that the number of deaths could rise by about 990 cases “unless everyone especially the national and local governments and health authorities work together in ensuring the spread of the disease is curbed.”

OCTA Research fellows recommended that health care workers inoculate themselves with any vaccine available to boost their immunity from the COVID 19 virus, especially with the discovery of the South African B.1.351 variant in Pasay City, as well as the rising number of the UK B.117 variant in certain cities in Metro Manila, including Pasay and Makati.

In an online press conference staged for OCTA Research by BluePrint.PH, Dr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP, a molecular biologist from the Providence College in Providence, Rhode Islands, USA and a visiting professor in the University of Sto. Tomas, said.

There is still a possibility of containing the spread of the so-called “super-COVID variants,” the South African B.1.351 in particular, if the Pasay City government will undertake quick steps along with the city’s residents in containing the infection from spreading, said Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a molecular biologist from the Providence College in the US and a visiting professor in the University of Santo Tomas.

“We still have a window to eliminate the B.1.351 from circulation. I am hoping that Pasay contain the spread. If the LGU can eliminate the B.1.351, then we are safe. Otherwise, we will have to talk about other options,” Austriaco said.

In its March 1 report, OCTA Research said that the surge in cases of COVID-19 is already “inevitable” and that the only steps the government and the public could take is to reduce the potential number of cases by ensuring the containment of the disease through vaccination and practice of the minimum health protocols.

OCTA Research chief Guido David of the University of the Philippines noted that Pasay City and Makati City have registered the highest rate of increase in cases in Metro Manila.

“If this trend continues and the national reproduction number remains at around Rt 1.2, the country is projected to have 665,000 COVID-19 cases and 14,000 deaths by end of March. If the reproduction number is reduced to Rt 1, the total number of COVID-19 cases is projected to be 640,000 by month’s end, with 13,500 deaths,” David said.

“On the other hand, if the reproduction number continues to increase and new COVID-19 cases continue to escalate especially in the NCR, the projection is 715,000 COVID-19 cases and 15,000 deaths by the end of March,” he added.

“This trend has been reversed, with significant positive growth in new cases observed in some LGUs in the region. In this light, based on our analysis of the data and the past trends in the NCR, we believe that a surge in its early stages has already started in some LGUs,” OCTA said.

However, it should be noted that this potentially serious surge in the NCR is still in its early stages and can still be mitigated, said OCTA Research fellow Ranjit Rye.

He said the inevitable rapid increase in COVID-19 cases could still be managed with the “implementation of appropriate and timely responses to reverse this increasing trend quickly and to prevent this ensuing surge from becoming full-blown and potentially overwhelming the health care system in the NCR.”