‘No evidence, but response geared vs community transmission’

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
âNo evidence, but response geared vs community transmissionâ
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire
PIA image

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the rising COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) reiterated yesterday that there is no evidence yet of community transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“As of now, we don’t see evidence that the linkages of the 216 Delta variant cases detected through genome sequencing could no longer be identified,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire pointed out.

But the official gave assurance that the government’s COVID-19 response is now anchored on the assumption that there is already community transmission of the Delta variant.

Vergeire said this means that they are improving the management of cases and ramping up efforts for contact tracing, case detection, isolation and testing.

“So the assumption is there but we cannot still pronounce or declare because we still do not have sufficient evidence,” she added, in response to the OCTA Research Group’s claims that community transmission of Delta variant could already be happening in NCR.

Vergeire also said that in terms of transmissibility and virulence, the variant B.1.617.2 is “very transmissible” compared to other variants of concern (VOCs).

“Delta variant is 60 to 100 percent more transmissible… If the UK variant can infect two to four people in just one interaction, Delta variant can infect five to eight persons,” she added.

She also said the viral load of a person infected with Delta variant is 1,000 times higher compared to other VOCs, and a person can get the virus if he gets exposed to an infected individual in “just a matter of seconds.”

“So if before, it would take 15 minutes for you to be considered as a close contact (of an infected person), with Delta variant this is no longer applicable,” she said.

There is also “no difference” between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals when it comes to the strain’s viral load.

“This means it is true that you can still get infected even if you are vaccinated. But it does not mean you are not protected against severe disease. It’s just that you can still pass the virus to others,” she added.

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