Even fully vaccinated individuals remain vulnerable to the new Covid-19 variants, according to a vaccine expert.
Nina Gloriani of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Vaccine Expert Panel issued the warning after President Rodrigo R. Duterte authorized free movement for vaccinated people in his public address last Wednesday.
“The new variants could affect the protection of those vaccinated so they could have breakthrough infections,” Gloriani said during an online press briefing on Thursday.
This was backed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), when it said that the efficacy of the vaccines being used in the country against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 such as the Delta variant, decrease by 15 to 20 percent.
The Delta variant, which has been detected in the country, is blamed for the surge in the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections in many countries.
FDA director general Eric Domingo, however, said the said vaccines remain effective since the baseline efficacy of the said brands are between 70 to 95 percent.
Gloriani noted the current brands being used locally to reduce the negative health impact of Covid-19 are only effective in preventing “severe form or critical illness.”
However, she said, the vaccine cannot prevent the transmission of infection, thus she said fully vaccinated individuals should still strictly comply with minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks and social distancing.
Duterte said he allowed greater mobility for vaccinated people to serve as incentive for the unvaccinated to finally get their Covid-19 jabs.
Currently, only 11 million of the country’s over 100 million population got their Covid-19 jabs. The government is targeting to vaccinated 50 million to 70 million people before the end of the year.