While we have been enjoying the freedoms and the recovery of the economy that came with relaxed alert levels all over the land over the past few months, many of us have also been bracing ourselves for another surge in COVID-19 infections that common sense told us to expect.
After months of relative peace and normalcy, warning signs are now blinking. The most noticeable one being the detection of the BA.2.12 Omicron subvariant in the country, courtesy of a fully vaccinated 52-year-old woman from Finland who did not undergo quarantine upon arrival due to eased protocols meant to fully reopen the battered economy.
Now, independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research has warned that another surge in COVID-19 infections may happen as early as after the May 9 elections due to the new Omicron subvariants and the massive crowds in recent campaign rallies.
OCTA has assured the public that it saw no threat of another major outbreak similar to the Delta variant spike, and that the impact should be mild for those who are vaccinated. It also doesn’t expect the new cases to fill up hospitals.
“It will not really be a major public health concern unlike the Delta variant which we saw last year, but it will still probably cause a disruption,” OCTA Research fellow Guido David said.
The vaccinated may be safer from the coronavirus, but those who have not yet availed of the vaccine remain more vulnerable to the coronavirus, while at the same time thwarting our efforts to achieve herd immunity for the entire population.
Government data puts the vaccination effort at 88 percent of the target population by mid-year, but only 14.2 million have received booster shots which have been shown to help extend the immunity coverage of vaccines. Health experts fear that the new subvariants could be invading the country just as the vaccine protection of those fully vaccinated starts to wane.
As Filipinos let their guard down over the past few months of eased restrictions, the government vaccination effort has also lost steam, as demonstrated millions of jabs nearing expiry dates. Inoculation and booster delivery rates have plateaued and now that the coronavirus is catching up, we may have to pay the price of over confidence.
The warnings have been repeated for months but the call for vaccination and boosters has fallen on deaf ears. It is now up the Filipino people to ramp up the national defense against COVID-19 and take vaccination seriously, while continuing to practice the basic health protocols that we should’ve mastered by now.*