WITH the World Health Organization warning earlier this month that Covid-19 cases in the country will likely rise following the relaxation of health protocols that allowed for more social gatherings and interactions, presidential frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. urged qualified citizens to get their booster shots already.
In a news conference, Marcos said the public should not wait for the Philippines to see a rise in cases again like other countries such as South Africa and India before getting booster shots, lest it prompts the government to re-impose policies that could affect workers, businesses and the general public.
“Everybody should get their booster shots, everyone who is qualified to have a booster shot should get it already. Covid is making a comeback. Let’s not wait for cases to spike before we act,” said the former senator, speaking partly in Filipino.
Marcos noted experts’ advice that the protection provided by a Covid vaccine wanes, hence, the need for booster shots.
As of April 24, over 12.9 million Filipinos have received their booster dose.
Around 37 million, meanwhile, have yet to avail of it.
Earlier this month, Dr. Rajendra Yadav, acting WHO Representative to the Philippines, warned that the country should prepare for a new Covid surge with the social gatherings and social mixing due to the observance of Ramadan, Holy Week, and engaging in election-related activities.
Yadav listed three reasons for providing the booster doses.
First, current evidence shows protection provided by the vaccines against infection or disease, particularly severe disease, wanes gradually.
Second, there could be reduced protection against more transmissible variants of concern over time.
And third, some risk groups may not develop adequate protection from the recommended primary series of the existing vaccines.
In addition, Marcos also appealed to the public not to be complacent and continue complying with the minimum public health standards to avoid a potential surge so post-pandemic activities can proceed.
“Let me repeat my call to everyone to watch out and be safe again. I know we’re all tired of wearing masks, do social distancing. But we need to be careful at all times. So we can overcome this pandemic and get on with our post-pandemic activities. I call this, Jabs to Jobs, we get our jabs so we can have our jobs,” he said.
The WHO cited continued masking and high vaccination coverage as the bare minimum tools against Covid-19.
The health agency also recommended that the national government, local government units (LGUs), and communities take urgent action to reach the unvaccinated individuals from the priority groups, particularly senior citizens and indigents, to achieve high coverage with the primary series and booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Department of Health earlier reported that a 50-percent decrease in compliance with minimum public health standards (MPHS) in the National Capital Region may result in 25,000 to 60,000 new Covid-19 cases per day by mid-May.
While a 20-percent decrease in MPHS compliance nationwide may lead to around 34,788 active Covid-19 cases; a 30-percent decrease in MPHS compliance might swell cases, possibly to as high as 300,000, over the same period.
It added that lowering transmission would lessen the possibility of the emergence of new variants, while high coverage of both primary series and booster doses will greatly contribute to a high defense wall against infection and severe disease.
Last week, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH is seeing an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in 14 areas under Alert Level 1. The DOH also reported on Wednesday that the Omicron subvariant tagged as causing the spiralling rise in cases abroad has reached Philippine shores.