Covid positivity rates climb – OCTA

THE number of Covid-19-positive tests in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila and eight other areas has exceeded the threshold set by the World Health Organization. File Photo

THE number of Covid-19-positive tests in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila and eight other areas has exceeded the threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO), OCTA Research said Monday.

OCTA Research fellow Guido David said the positivity rate in the NCR climbed to 5.9 percent on June 25 from 3.9 percent on June 18.

The WHO recommends a rate of 5 percent or lower to ensure that the coronavirus is under control.

The positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who were positive for Covid-19 among the total individuals that were tested for the virus.

Other areas with rates above the WHO threshold are Batangas (from 1.2 percent to 5.6 percent), Cagayan (from 1.9 percent to 5.8 percent), Cavite (from 3.6 percent to 6 percent), Iloilo (from 4.4 percent to 5.7 percent), Laguna (from 3.1 percent to 7.5 percent), Pampanga (from 3.3 percent to 5.9 percent) and South Cotabato (from 6.3 percent to 7.4 percent).

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Rizal province recorded the highest rate, jumping from 6.3 percent on June 18 to 11.9 percent on June 25.

Amid the rising Covid-19 cases, Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon said the government should seriously consider administering second booster shots to economic frontliners and people with comorbidities.

For now, Leachon said, the priority must be to ramp up the first booster shots to the general public.

“I think, the first approach is to ramp up the first booster and consider also the expansion of the second booster or the fourth shot not only to the health care workers, senior citizens or immunocompromised individuals, but start and align with the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines to start it above 50 years old,” the former special adviser to the National Task Force Against Covid-19 said.

“For the A3 (people with comorbidities) and economic frontliners, maybe we should also open it up, considering some of the vaccines will expire,” he added.

The CDC recommends two booster shots for adults ages 50 and above as well as people ages 12 and older who are moderately and severely immunocompromised.

In the Philippines, the second booster is only available to 18-year-olds and above, workers in essential health services, senior citizens, immunocompromised individuals ages 18 years and above with an immunodeficiency state, HIV, active cancer or malignancy, transplant recipients, undergoing steroid treatment, patients with poor prognosis or bedridden patients, and other conditions of immunodeficiency as certified by a physician.

Leachon noted that catching a mild Covid-19 from someone infected with an Omicron subvariant could still have severe effects.

“This can actually also lead to long Covid-19 or post-Covid-19 patients, and that would affect the productivity of our economic frontliners. We should not increase the cases since it would affect not just hospitalization and death rate, but it will affect our quality of life and productivity of our economic frontliners,” he said.

Vaccine Expert Panel Chairman Dr. Nina Gloriani favors second booster shots for those with comorbidities and economic frontliners, as well as a review of the definition of the term “immunocompromised” to cover people with other comorbidities.

Gloriani said only the Department of Health (DoH) can make the final decision, but the agency is still waiting for more data from the WHO.

The DoH has declared that the majority of the country's population is still not eligible for a second booster because there is insufficient evidence that it will be beneficial to the general public.

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