The Philippines’ vaccine expert panel has underscored the need of fully vaccinating majority of the country’s population amid the threat of the more transmissible variants of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the country’s vaccine expert panel, said the vaccines that government has been using in its nationwide inoculation drive are still capable of providing protection against the disease.
“Ang sinasabi natin diyan, kailangan marami ang mabakunahan, para meron tayo nung yung level ng protection (What we are saying is that many people need to be vaccinated, so that we can have that level of protection), and in a short period of time…at dapat nakaka-dalawang doses (and it should be two doses),” Gloriani said.
In an interview with TeleRadyo on Tuesday, June 22, the vaccine expert said that efficacy of the vaccines against the variants increases after the second dose, from 30 percent in the first dose to up to 80 percent in the second dose.
“Ang mga bakuna ngayon, although bumaba ang proteksyon (The vaccines right now, although the protection they provide has been reduced), will still protect against the severe form of the disease,” Gloriani said.
She noted that it would take at least two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection against the SARS-Cov-2 virus which causes COVID-19.
The government has been using vaccines developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac’s CoronaVac, and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V in its immunization program against COVID-19.
Gloriani said the Alpha and Beta variants, which was first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, remain the most common coronavirus variants in the country.
As for the Delta variant, which was first detected in India and triggered a devastating surge in the country recently, the panel chief said the variant is more transmissible.
Last week, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Delta variant is becoming the dominant variant globally due to its increased transmissibility.
Some European countries have reported a steep increase in cases with the Delta variant recently.
The Philippines has so far recorded 1,085 Alpha variant cases (UK), 1,267 cases of Beta variant (South Africa), 17 cases of the Delta variant (India), and two cases of Gamma variant (Brazil).
“Itong lahat ng ito, kaya sila ‘variants of concern’ ang tawag kasi either very highly transmissble or nage-escape sila yung sa bakuna, yung protection bumababa (All of these, they are so-called ‘variants of concern’ because they are either very highly transmissible or they escape the vaccine, the protection goes down),” Gloriani said.