Avoid complacency as Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over—DOH

The public should remain vigilant as the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over despite the lifting of its global health emergency status, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Covid-19 no longer represents a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

“Ang public health emergency of international concern na ini-lift ng WHO is not equated to the pandemic. So even though the WHO has already lifted the public health emergency of international concern status, hindi po nila sinabing tapos na ang pandemya,” said DOH Officer-in-Charge and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during a press briefing on Tuesday, May 9.

"Even though the public health emergency of international concern has been lifted, we can't be complacent at this point," she added.

Vergeire also reported that the country’s daily Covid-19 cases is at 1,400, which is 87 percent higher than the 747 cases per day recorded the previous week.

The Health official noted that “96 percent of all of these cases are either mild, asymptomatic, or moderate.” Only four percent are severe and critical, she added.

PH’s own public health emergency status

Amid the lifting of PHEIC, Vergeire said that members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) convened last May 8 to discuss the matter. However, Vergeire has yet to announce the recommendations that were tackled during the meeting as these still need to be presented to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“So, our timeline would be, we will be submitting to the President by Monday of next week,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vergeire stressed that the PHEIC is not the same with the country’s Covid-19 public health emergency that was declared by former President Rodrigo Duterte last March 8, 2020.

She explained that PHEIC is “a global pronouncement of the World Health Organization” for emerging health events that can potentially affect people’s health and international trade as well as its ability to cross borders.

“Now, countries are not required to follow the WHO when they declare or pronounce this. Guide sila ng bawat bansa kung ano ang gagawin,” said Vergeire.

“Nung nag declare ang WHO nitong PHEIC for Covid-19, ang ating bansa ay nag-align tayo with WHO dahil nakita natin na maapektuhan talaga dahil the virus crosses borders,” she added.

This was the reason why Duterte declared a Covid-19 public health emergency as well as a state of calamity, said Vergeire.

“The government issues these kinds of proclamations to safeguard the health of every Filipino,” said Vergeire.


In the event that the public health emergency status be lifted in the country, vaccine makers are encouraged to apply for certificate of product registration (CPR) for their respective vaccines, said Vergeire. If this happens, the Covid-19 vaccines will now be available in the market.

“Kung saka-sakali lang na mapunta tayo path na yung public health emergency ay biglang ma-lift because of this PHEIC lifting, ayun pong ating mga bakuna, ang ating manufacturers are now being encourage to apply for the CPR kasi mawawala na po yung authority ng FDA to issue out this EUAs (emergency use authorization),” she said.

When asked if the Covid-19 vaccines will still be provided for free, Vergeire said this needs to undergo evaluation from the country's Health Technology Assessment Council.

“Dadating tayo sa point na isa-subject natin ito sa Health Technology Assessment. Pag tiningnan ng  Health Technology Assessment na ito ay magiging cost effective for government, especially if we can cover the vulnerable (sector) like seniors, katulad sa mga bakunang binibigay natin ngayon for flu/influenza,” she said.

“So ganyan din gagawin natin. We will subject it to that and we will know if government can still subsidize a portion of the population,” she added.