Manila Standard : Avail of free COVID-19 booster shots, Bongbong urges public

18 June 2022

By Rey E. Requejo,Willie Casasand2 others | Manila Standard

President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday urged the public to avail of the free booster shots being offered by the government after the Department of Health (DOH) warned of a possible increase in severe and critical COVID-19 cases by August due to the waning immunity of the primary vaccine series.

Marcos emphasized the urgency of taking booster doses, saying the waning immunity stems from the effect of the highly transmissible Omicron variant on the primary vaccine series.

“With the COVID pandemic still ongoing, different variants may still emerge…. Hence, there is a need to enhance our immunity by getting booster shots. There is a need for added protection,” Marcos said.

Marcos also urged the public to strictly adhere to minimum public health standards to prevent another surge of cases that could impede the country’s economic recovery.

“We have already made economic headway and we should not allow them to be brought to naught. This is why I am urging everyone to take part in preventing another surge that could block our way to economic recovery,” Marcos said.

“We have to wear face masks and comply with other health standards to ensure our safety and that of our loved ones,” Marcos said.

Earlier, the Health department has warned of a possible increase in severe and critical COVID-19 cases by August due to the waning immunity of the public.

It also warned that while hospitals are not overwhelmed at present, there could be an increase in hospitalization by August.

The agency reported that the average number of new cases per day rose to 270 from 182 per day last week.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his successor should have experience in addressing the pandemic.

Duque also served as the Health chief of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“I know people want the next secretary of Health to have some knowledge in addressing the pandemic, so the wheel is not reinvented, so to speak. So that there’s continuity,” Duque said.

The Philippine Medical Association and the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. have endorsed Dr. Ted Herbosa, adviser of the

National Task Force Against COVID-19, as the next secretary of Health.

Duque said he would “leave it to the next president to decide” who would be his successor.

“All of the names I’ve heard are good and have helped in our pandemic response. I haven’t been asked for any recommendation or endorsement,” he said.

At the same time, Duque said there was nothing to worry about despite the current uptick in COVID-19 cases but warned against falling into complacency.

“There is no need to worry at this point. But the situation doesn’t present itself as an excuse to be complacent. So, we still have to comply strictly with our masking mandate, and the rest of the minimum public health standards,” he said.

Duque said he expects that a possible surge in COVID-19 cases would be “minor and short-lived and would not overwhelm the health care
system’s capacity.”

He said the average daily attack rate (ADAR) in the country is less than one per 100,000 population.

He also said that the healthcare utilization rate (HCUR) in the National Capital Region is only 25 percent, saying this would have to rise to 50 percent to 70 percent to be considered a moderate risk.

Earlier, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Metro Manila remains at low risk for COVID-19.

Quezon City over the weekend raised its COVID-19 warning to yellow alert status, following the increase of average daily cases being recorded in the area.

The local government earlier said Quezon City remains under Alert Level 1 and that the yellow alert level was a call for heightened monitoring.

Also on Friday, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion called on pharmaceutical firms producing COVID vaccines to register their products to commercialize and enable mass access to the products.

“Vaccine manufacturers should apply for a certificate of public registration (CPA) for their vaccines so they can sell directly to drug stores. The government need not indemnify and guarantee vaccine manufacturers, anymore. If anything or something should happen, they should be able to shoulder the cost. After all, they are making money out of this,” Concepcion said.