Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, July 18, said that the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines should be given to hotspot areas where the highly transmissible Delta variant has been detected.
The United States through the global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX donated 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Janssen vaccine. Studies showed that the J&J vaccine prompts “neutralizing antibody activity” against the Delta variant at a higher level than it did for the Beta variant, which was first detected in South Africa.
During her weekly radio show, Robredo said the country’s vaccination program should be one step ahead of the Delta variant.
“Sana i-prioritize na nila ang mga lugar na may na-detect na Delta variant kasi one dose lang ito. Ang suggestion ko sana unahin ang may danger na magkaroon ng maraming transmission nung Delta variant para maunahan nila iyong transmission (I hope they prioritize the areas where they detected the Delta variant because this is only one dose. My suggestion is to prioritize those that are in danger of having a lot of transmission of the Delta variant, so they can be ahead of the transmission),” she added.
The vice president noted it is scary to think about the recent report from the Department of Health (DOH) about 16 new cases of the Delta variant. This brings the number of Delta variant cases in the country to 35.
But what’s even scarier is that these reports are belatedly coming in as Robredo stated the cases that were just reported this July were tested back in April and May.
The first death from Delta variant that the DOH reported happened on June 28, but the result of the swab test just came out now.
“Pwedeng marami pa, hindi lang iyong 35. Pero dahil sobrang limited iyong processing capacity hindi nila mabilisan so sana bigyan ito ng kailangan na suporta iyong genome center (It’s possible that there are more, not just 35. But because the processing capacity is so limited, they cannot make it fast, so we hope that the genome center receives much-needed support),” Robredo said.
Earlier, Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Palmes-Saloma said they can only prioritize processing the virus samples from hotspot areas.
On Saturday, the DOH reported 11 local Delta variant cases, bringing the total cases to 35. One of the patients from Manila has died while 15 of the new cases recovered.
The breakdown of the 11 new cases was as follows: two in Manila, five in Cagayan de Oro, one in Misamis Oriental, two in Antique, and one in Pampanga.
The DOH has yet to announce that there is community transmission of the Delta variant, a strain first detected in India and believed to be the cause of the surge there and in Indonesia, because of the lack of local case linkages.
Most of the vaccines are believed to be effective against the Delta variant, although their efficacy rates go down.
The Philippines received more than 5.8 million vaccines this week, 3.2 million of which are the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. This will boost the country’s vaccination program, which was stalled in the past couple of weeks because of the lack of supply.