MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged Filipinos again on Wednesday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the face of the greater threat posed by its more transmissible Delta variant, which has caused a surge in cases in other countries.
In a statement, the CHR the variant — also known as B.1.617.2 or the India variant, after the country where it was first detected — had become a cause of concern because, as Filipino health experts pointed out, it was shown to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant.
The Alpha variant, also known as B.1.1.7, was first detected in the United Kingdom (UK), which was why it was first called the UK variant.
It was blamed for the surge in cases in Metro Manila and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna last March and April. This Alphas variant is already 60 percent more transmissible than the original virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
“The Commission urges every eligible individual to get vaccinated to protect themselves and prevent the spread and mutation of Covid. Frequent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus leads to greater chances of mutations. Currently, the DOH has detected 40 additional Covid-19 variant cases,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
“The Delta variant is particularly worrying. It is a variant of concern that is quickly overtaking other variations as it has shown itself to be more contagious and has the possibility to be more resistant to current vaccines and treatment,” she added.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), it has found 40 more COVID-19 patients infected with variants — four of them with the Delta variant.
A total of 17 people with the Delta variant have so far been found in the country. Of this number, 15 have recovered, one has died, and one is still sick.
READ: DOH reports 40 more COVID-19 variant cases
READ: DOH raises alert as PH finds more Delta variant cases of COVID-19
Best defense is vaccination
“The best defense we have under these circumstances is to keep up our vaccination efforts and ensure continued compliance with basic health protocols. The Commission thus welcomes the enactment of the government’s ‘no wrong door policy’ for its Covid-19 vaccination program,” De Guia said.
“This policy allows Filipinos to be inoculated anywhere in the country and is seen to help speed up efforts and ensure that that there remains ample allocation of #Vaccine4All,” she added.
The CHR also lauded the government rejecting a suggestion to segregate vaccinated from unvaccinated individuals who have been vaccinated from those who have not yet received their shots.
“While more needs to be done to curb the spread of the virus, enacting policies that segregate the vaccinated from unvaccinated individuals may be prone to abuse and discrimination. We agree that further discussions and study needs to be done for future policies to protect general populations,” De Guia explained.
As of Monday, the national government said that it had administered over seven million doses, of which 1.9 million both received their first and second doses.
READ: REAGov’t administers over 7M COVID-19 vaccine doses
‘The Delta variant is really scary’
The Delta variant has been blamed for the enormous increase in infections in India, which at one point set a world record of 349,000 cases recorded in a single day.
READ: India coronavirus cases set new global record, US readies help
READ: Global concern grows as COVID-19 variant ravages rural India
Filipino authorities were alarmed by the development, among them Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, an infectious disease expert, who urged the government to strictly monitor people coming from abroad as some of them might be infected with the Delta variant.
“The Delta variant is really scary, and this is all the more the reason why we really should police our borders, because it only takes one variant to get in and we can have an India-like surge. That’s because one person with the Delta variant can really infect a large number of other people,” Salvana, speaking partly in Filipino, said on Monday during the weekly briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to him, a person with the original virus from Wuhan in China can infect two other people, while someone with the Delta variant can infect up to eight other people.
“So it’s up to four times more contagious than the original virus from Wuhan. So this will really be a big disaster if we do not keep it out of the country,” Salvana added.
READ: PH must strictly screen people coming from abroad to block COVID-19 Delta variant – expert
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