WHO backs 3rd COVID-19 vaccine shot for elderlies, immunocompromised

Robie de Guzman   •   October 14, 2021   •   260

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday expressed support to proposals seeking to administer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised people who were not able to develop full immunity after receiving two doses.

WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said they are advocating for a third dose for immunocompromised individuals as an extended primary vaccination course.

Senior citizens who also received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine made either by Sinovac or Sinopharm should also be given a third shot of the same vaccine brand.

“Our recommendation is that in addition to immunocompromised individuals, that we include all individuals who have received primary vaccination of two doses with Sinovac or Sinopharm to receive a third dose provided it’s more than 3 months since the completion of their first 2 doses,” he said.

“We don’t have a recommendation for general population,” he added.

The Philippine government has yet to decide on the issue of giving a booster shot but it earlier said it has allocated a budget for its procurement next year.

Omicron COVID-19 variant spreads to 24 counties – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Omicron variant of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been detected in 24 countries as of Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The WHO said the United States is the latest country to be included in the list after it confirmed its first case of the heavily mutated and potentially more contagious variant as it continues to spread across borders.

The US said its first case of Omicron variant was a traveler in California who returned from South Africa on November 22. The case tested positive on Monday as reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other countries that have confirmed cases of Omicron variant include Australia, Canada, South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, Italy, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said the variant’s mutation should not surprise countries, as this is what viruses do.

He said available “tools” such as vaccines, should be used to contain the spread of the COVID-19 variant.

The WHO official also noted that the Delta variant is still responsible for most COVID cases worldwide and curbing its spread will also help contain Omicron.

“At the same time, we must not forget that we are already dealing with a highly transmissible, dangerous variant – the Delta variant, which currently accounts for almost all cases globally,” he said.

“We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from Delta. And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and save lives from Omicron,” he added.

“But if countries and individuals don’t do what they need to do to stop transmission of Delta, they won’t stop Omicron either,” he further stated.

Tedros said medical experts are still looking into the Omicron variant to understand how it affects transmission and its severity, and whether it will alter the effectiveness of COVID tests, treatment, and vaccines.

Testing at sequencing ng samples ng international passengers vs Omicron variant, inirerekomenda ng WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Inirerekomenda ng World Health Organization (WHO) ang pagpapaigting sa screening at sequencing ng samples ng lahat ng mga pasaherong papasok sa Pilipinas.

Ayon kay WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, isa ito sa mga mabisang paraan upang agad mapigilan ang pagkalat ng Omicron variant sakaling makapasok na ito sa bansa.

Aniya, dapat muling higpitan ang screening at isailalim sa RT-PCR screening ang mga pasahero, may Omicron variant case man o wala ang pinanggalingan nilang bansa.

“Risk-based approach should not only target countries that have already confirmed the Omicron variant in travellers or in citizens. We need to be aware of the fact that many countries have limited capacity for whole genome sequencing,” ani Abeyasinghe.

“That’s why I am advocating that anyone returning from overseas should be sequenced… So that we can get a headstart on being able to detect on the arrival of the variant in the country,” dagdag pa niya.

Kailangan rin aniyang isailalim sa genome sequencing ang lahat ng samples mula sa inbound travelers na nagpositibo sa COVID-19 upang matiyak na walang makakalusot na Omicron variant sa Pilipinas.

Sang-ayon rin si Abeyasinghe sa pagpapatupad ng travel restrictions sa South Africa at iba pang mga bansang may kaso na nito dahil karapatan ng isang bansa na magpatupad ng precautionary measures mula sa anumang banta.

“WHO has always advocated a risk-based approach. So each country should consider the risk of potential information from countries that are already confirming these variants and take appropriate measures while we’re trying to determine the absolute epidemiological significance of the variant and its response to the preventive entry and protocols that we have in the country at the moment in the world,” ayon sa WHO official.

“We continue to urge countries to take a risk- based approach in assessing the likelihood of information,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang Omicron variant ay unang natuklasan sa South Africa noon lamang nakaraang linggo at ngayo’y napaulat na rin sa iba’t ibang bansa.

Sa mga inisyal na pag-aaral, pinangangambahang mas agresibo at mas nakakahawa ang variant na ito dahil sa nakita ritong mutations na mas marami pa kumpara sa Delta variant.

Ngunit giit ng WHO, sa ngayon ay wala pang malinaw na detalye para sabihing mas mabagsik nga ang Omicron variant at may epekto ito sa transmission, mga gamot na ginagamit sa severe infection at sa bakuna laban sa COVID-19.

Ayon sa ahensiya, mas mainam pa ring panlaban sa virus ang umiiral na health protocols gaya ng tamang pagsusuot ng face mask, physical distancing, at palagiang paghuhugas ng kamay.

Mas maigi ring magpabakuna dahil nagbibigay ito ng proteksyon laban sa COVID-19. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Mandatory face shield use vs Omicron variant, hindi pa kailangan sa ngayon – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala ang World Health Organization (WHO) na hindi pa kailangan sa ngayon ang muling pagpapatupad ng mandatory face shield use sa harap ng banta ng bagong COVID-19 variant na Omicron.

Ayon kay WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, mas mahalaga sa ngayon ang pagsunod sa health protocols gaya ng tamang pagsusuot ng face mask, physical distancing, at ang pagpapanatili ng kalinisan upang makaiwas sa COVID-19.

“WHO has right along said that this is a virus that is not airborne. It is closed contact transmission and that is why we emphasized that what is important is the physical distancing and face masking and hygiene,” ani Abeyasinghe.

“If we can ensure those minimum requirements, those minimum public health measure are complied with, if we can ensure that people don’t congregate in close settings, the requirement of face shield probably at this point of time is not mandatory,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang inatasan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang mga eksperto at ang Inter-Agency Task Force na magsumite ng rekomendasyon hinggil sa posibleng pagbabalik ng mandatory face shield use dahil sa banta ng bagong variant.

Ang Omicron variant ay unang natuklasan sa South Africa noon lamang nakaraang linggo at ngayo’y napaulat na rin sa iba’t ibang bansa.

Sa ulat ng ilang eksperto, pinangangambahang mas agresibo at mas nakakahawa ang variant na ito dahil sa nakita ritong mutations na mas marami pa kumpara sa Delta variant.

Ngunit giit ng WHO, sa ngayon ay wala pang malinaw na detalye para sabihing mas mabagsik nga ang Omicron variant at may epekto ito sa transmission, mga gamot na ginagamit sa severe infection at sa bakuna laban sa COVID-19.

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