Rhodina Villanueva – The Philippine Star
June 21, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) recorded 612 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, the highest daily tally since the 690 infections registered on April 3.
The latest figure brings total infections to 3,696,264 while active cases were placed at 4,529, with recoveries reaching 3,631,268 and no new deaths recorded over the past three days.
Cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) are also starting to peak, as seen in the continuous increase in the numbers of cases over the past days.
“Right now, what we are seeing is that cases are continuously increasing, especially in the NCR. We can see that this is the start of the peak in the number of cases. We are guiding the public that this might be the start of the number of cases continuously rising in next couple of weeks,” DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said in a television interview.
The health official explained that the “start of the peak” only means that numbers will still climb in the coming weeks. She said the DOH is also closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Regions 6, 10, 1, 2, 4A and 4B.
The following regions recorded the most cases in the past two weeks: NCR (2,194) followed by Calabarzon (659), Western Visayas (375), Central Luzon (324) and Central Visayas (183).
On a per-week basis, 3,051 new infections were recorded from June 13 to 19, up by 82 percent compared to June 6 to 12. Over the past week, data showed there were six new COVID deaths while 15 new patients were in severe and critical conditions.
According to the DOH, the daily average number of new COVID-19 infections is 436 and as of June 19, there were 554 severe and critical admissions in the country with 385 occupying ICU beds.
Meanwhile, 4,033 patients are occupying COVID-19 beds, or 18.2 percent of the 22,156 total COVID-19 beds allocated nationwide.
According to Vergeire, the main factors that caused the increase is the entry of the different COVID-19 subvariants and sublineages, increased mobility of Filipinos to “pre-pandemic levels” and the problem of waning immunity from COVID-19, especially given the slow uptake in boosters.
There is no need yet for the general population to avail themselves of a second COVID booster shot because the benefit for people aged below 60 “is not that much,” DOH Technical Advisory Group member Dr. Edsel Salvaña said at the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday.
“It gives more protection for 60 years old and above. The protection from second booster shots is significant but below 60, the benefit is not that much,” Salvaña said. “The second booster shot is OK to be taken by those 60 years old and above and the immunocompromised group. But there is no need to rush for those who belong to the general or much younger population.”
“The data is not clear because studies made for second boosters is really in the elderly population. It doesn’t make sense that you will administer vaccines right away just because it is expiring, and the evidence is not yet clear. What if there are side effects? It is not that simple,” he said, noting that there is a need to have concrete basis or evidence that it is working before using a medicine or vaccine.
According to Vergeire, the country has 55 million individuals eligible to get their boosters. “We only have 14.7 million who have received their boosters. So we are looking at 41 million individuals who have not received boosters,” she said.
The DOH has issued reminders to the public that only frontline health care workers, senior citizens and immunocompromised adults are qualified to take the second booster shot or a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The DOH said it is coordinating with its Regional Vaccination Operation Centers to strictly comply and focus efforts on administering the first booster shot to improve coverage before giving second boosters.