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Stricter border control sought vs COVID-19 variants
At a press briefing, NIH executive director Eva Maria Cutiongco dela Paz said the country must also scale up the vaccination program as the Delta variant is showing higher transmissibility compared to other variants.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file

Stricter border control sought vs COVID-19 variants

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-University of the Philippines yesterday underscored the need to implement stricter border control amid the threats of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

At a press briefing, NIH executive director Eva Maria Cutiongco dela Paz said the country must also scale up the vaccination program as the Delta variant is showing higher transmissibility compared to other variants.

“Strict border control is really crucial because it will block entry of the Delta variant,” noted Dela Paz, director for health programs of the Philippine Genome Center.

She noted it is also important to vaccinate more people as protection against COVID-19 and its variants.

The expert added ramping up vaccination is one of the “biggest challenges” but this should be coupled with the strict implementation of minimum public health standards and PDITR, pertaining to the prevent, detect, isolate, treat and reintegrate strategy against COVID 19.

“It will allow us to buy time. In case it (Delta variant) comes in, hopefully our system is prepared,” she maintained.

According to Dela Paz, the Delta variant has higher transmissibility compared to other variants and has spread to 85 countries.

In the Philippines, 17 cases of Delta variant have been detected by the PGC and NIH-UP.

Citing the World Health Organization, she said the Delta variant is the “fastest and fittest coronavirus strain yet and it will pick off the most ‘vulnerable’ people,’ especially in places with low COVID-19 vaccination rates.”

In the United States, Delta variant accounts for 10 percent of cases as of June 14, but latest reports have it at 31 percent.

“In the United Kingdom, it has already overtaken the Alpha variant, which was itself 40 percent more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Philippines and Singapore have taken the lead to jumpstart a regional study to assess the levels of immunity brought by the national vaccination programs within ASEAN.

Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the collaboration was one of the two COVID-19 research proposals officially endorsed during the 11th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation (IAMMSTI-11) and the 79th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation (COSTI-79), held virtually last week as part of the ASEAN member states’ commitment to strengthen regional cooperation on science and technology.

Through the study, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to stronger regional cooperation on science and technology in the ASEAN region to help boost its member-states’ capabilities in combating COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The collaborative study will assess levels of immunity at different stages, including before vaccination and the longevity of immunity conferred through vaccination. – Rainier Allan Ronda

COVID-19 VARIANT
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