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PH now has ‘substantial population immunity’ vs COVID-19 – OCTA fellow

/ 02:00 AM December 07, 2021
Metro Manila skyline at night

Metro Manila, in particular, is already “robustly protected against a future surge of COVID-19,” says OCTA Research fellow, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco. (File photo by JILSON SECKLER TIU / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Current data suggest that the Philippines has obtained “substantial population immunity” against COVID-19, an OCTA Research fellow, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco Jr., said during the weekly taped “Talk to the People” of President Rodrigo Duterte that aired late Monday night.

Austriaco, a Catholic priest who is also a molecular biologist, noted that the country currently had achieved its lowest number of cases and hospitalization rate and its highest mobility rate in 20 months even after the arrival of the Delta variant.

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“So what these three mean together is that it suggests that we have obtained substantial population immunity from natural infections and vaccinations in the urban areas of the Philippines,” Austriaco said.

“Because the pandemic has raged and spread primarily in our cities and our first-class municipalities. The fact that the virus is struggling to find new Filipinos to infect suggests that we have obtained substantial population immunity,” he added.

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Austriaco compared the Philippines’ current state to its neighbors — specifically Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. According to him, those three countries got the Delta variant before the Philippines, and yet they continue to experience surges — unlike the Philippines.

“Now the reason why these four different countries have experienced four different pandemic curves is probably because, as you can see, the Philippines experienced substantial waves of previous variants — especially the Alpha, Beta variants, which struck our country in March and April of this year,” Austriaco said.

“And so combining the vaccinations and the natural immunity, what you’re seeing here is that many of our cities where the pandemic tends to focus are now stable enough to prevent transmission,” he added.

The biologist also noted that Metro Manila was already “robustly protected against a future surge of COVID-19,” with almost 100 percent of its adults vaccinated and the number of vaccinated teenagers increasing.

In the last seven days, the Philippines has averaged 500 cases per day, with the Department of Health recording only 543 new cases on Dec. 6 and active infections further reduced to just 13,548.

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