The Philippines, hobbled by coronavirus infections and deaths since March last year, is expected to see fewer COVID-19 cases by October or November due to its vaccination drive, an official leading the inoculation strategy said Thursday.
At the same time, the National Capital Region’s COVID-19 reproduction number went down to 0.99, the OCTA Research Group said, although it stressed there was no assurance yet it signified a downward trend.
OCTA Research fellow Guido David said during an interview on Balitanghali: “The reproduction number in NCR is now at 0.99. In fact, that is less than one. But the trend of COVID-19 cases is still unstable. That is not a guarantee that the number of cases is down.”
The reproduction number refers to the number of people that one COVID-19 patient can infect.
Most residents in areas with the worst coronavirus outbreaks would have been vaccinated by then, said Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr, head of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
“Once majority of highly urbanized cities like Metro Manila area have been vaccinated, if we get that October or November, we will see the effect, that cases will drop,” Galvez said.
Inoculate 7 million in NCR
David said he government needed to vaccinate around seven million residents of the National Capital Region to trigger economic recovery.
He said 30 to 50 percent of Filipinos residing in Metro Manila should get COVID-19 jabs to control transmission and to prevent another outbreak.
“Around seven million people in the NCR should be vaccinated. Hopefully, by the third quarter of this year. If we are able to do that, economic recovery will happen sooner. Our situation may not be like the old normal but we can ease restrictions in business establishments,” he said.
Meanwhile, Galvez said COVID-19 vaccines produced by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Pfizer would be delivered to the Philippines starting next week.
He said an initial 15,000 Sputnik V doses are expected to arrive on April 25. Another batch consisting of 480,000 doses will be shipped to the country on April 29, along with 500,000 Sinovac doses.
Galvez said 195,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the COVAX Facility might arrive by the end of the month.
The Philippines is set to receive 1 to 2 million Sputnik V shots in May and 2 million in June, he added.
Galvez also expressed hope that an initial 194,000 doses of Moderna vaccine would arrive in May.
0.5m more Sinovac doses
In other developments, another shipment of Sinovac vaccines purchased by the Philippine government from China arrived on Thursday.
The 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport via Philippine Airlines Beijing-Manila flight PR-359 around 5:16 p.m.
“This latest batch of 500,000 government-purchased vaccine doses brings to 2.4 million the total number of doses flown into the country by the national flag carrier,” said PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna.
The Philippines logged Thursday 8,767 new infections, bringing the total to 971,049, the Department of Health reported.
According to the DOH, this pushed the total active cases to 107,988, which is 11.1 percent of the total cases.
Of this 96.6 percent are mild, 1.3 percent are asymptomatic, 0.9 percent are severe, 0.7 percent are critical, and 0.55 percent are moderate.
The DOH also announced that 17,138 more patients have recovered from the illness, bringing the total to 846,691, which is 87.2 percent of the total.
Some 105 new fatalities brought the death toll to 16,370, which is 1.69 percent of the total.
Unauthorized swab tests
The National Bureau of Investigation announced the arrest of two persons by the NBI-Special Action Unit in Metro Manila for conducting unauthorized swab testing, estafa and falsification.
NBI Officer-In-Charge Director Eric Distor identified the suspect as Bernadette Ubante Lagat, alias Berna Lagat, and Paulo Arevalo Onate.
Distor said that the case stemmed from a complaint that a certain Facebook page called “Swab Test Pilipinas” is offering a home service swab test for P 3,500.00 per test.
According to the victim, a certain Berna Lagat entertained her and subsequently communicated with her through Lagat’s cellphone number.
The actual swab test was performed by Lagat herself on the complainant’s brother and nephew on April 11, 2021 at their residence in Sampaloc, Manila.