The number of Delta variant cases in the country could have already reached 2,000 at present, based on the genome sequencing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) samples, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
“As of the latest data, we see 26 percent of cases sampled were the Delta variant. If that were the case, that would be as much as 2,000 cases of the Delta variant in the whole Philippines. We are not saying we know this as a fact. This is just the projection based on the sampling,” David said in an online forum organized by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
He pointed out that the country has a “limited” genome sequencing, accounting for just 100 samples per day out of around 8,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide.
However, David pointed out that a surge in cases is “definitely happening” in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“We are now at around 2,000 cases recorded yesterday (Aug. 2). If we look back in March, this is equivalent to about the first week of March when we had 2,000 cases. (But) now we are responding earlier than when we did last March,” David said.
“What we are seeing based on the trend is that it looks very likely that this will increase even further. It will grow exponentially from this point, he added.
David also noted that the increasing reproduction number in Metro Manila could indicate that there is a replacement of COVID-19 variants.
“What we are seeing is very alarming. The reproduction number is actually accelerating. What that indicates is that there is now a replacement going on with the variants. That is a very likely explanation why the reproduction number is suddenly increasing,” OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said in an online forum organized by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
He said the Delta variant has a strong replacement factor, which means “it tends to replace the other variants because it is more infectious.”
As of Monday, Aug. 2, Metro Manila’s reproduction number is 1.59. “This is the average number of infections of each infected individual. A reproduction number of 1 means one person is infecting one other individual,” he said.
David said that the reproduction number is the primary indicator that OCTA has been using to predict the surge.
“We can compare the reproduction number (at present) with what we saw back in late February or early March. At the start of February, the reproduction number in NCR was around 1. 1 is an okay reproduction number but it started increasing. It increased up to 2 and then we instituted a lockdown and it started to decrease the reproduction number,” he said.
“We were able to control the reproduction number and decrease it to less than 1 but it had started growing again recently,” he added.
He noted that hospital bed occupancy in the NCR has started to increase.
“In fact, on average, 50 new hospital beds are being occupied every day over the past two weeks. For ICUs, they have also been increasing steadily,” he said.
David said that OCTA maintains its position to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant at the soonest possible time.
The group lauded the decision of the national government to implement a two-week enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila starting Aug. 6, as it is a necessary move to prevent the spread of the Delta COVID variant and avoid overwhelming hospitals and healthcare.
“If we look at the entire timeline of the pandemic in NCR since 2020 when we have a surge like this, there’s no way for it to stop. We cannot control it anymore. The question becomes–when do we put a stop to it? Do we stop it sooner or do we stop it later when hospitals are filled? The position of the OCTA Research group is it is better to stop it sooner rather than wait for it to grow and then we stop it later when hospitals are full,” he said.