Issue of January 3, 2021
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New SARS-CoV2 variant doesn’t make vaccines useless - experts
by PNA

It is early to tell whether the existence of the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 found in the United Kingdom will affect the development of vaccines against the Covid-19 and the immunity of those who have been inoculated in other countries, health experts said Sunday.

In a virtual media briefing, Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases President Dr. Marissa Alejandria said the predominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 is not yet known and surveillance is needed to see how it behaves.

“There are now mutations seen but not all of them are significant. We don’t think that the vaccine being used now will not be effective, but we will have to monitor actively, surveillance that is needed, so all those who were vaccinated will be monitored if they will have a disease which could be mild, moderate or severe,” Alejandria said.

Department of Health Technical Advisory Group member Dr. Edsel Salvana stressed the importance of surveillances in the improvement of the current Covid-19 vaccines if ever mutations of SARS-CoV-2 will have any impact on them.

“For example, ‘yung pneumonia vaccine mayroong 30 strains na kasama (the pneumonia vaccine has 30 strains included) or 23 stains or the human papilloma virus there are nine, so we can adjust the vaccines, but what’s important is we’ll have the means to detect if it’s becoming resistant to vaccines,” Salvana said.

Apart from monitoring and adjustment of vaccine formulation, Salvana underscored the importance of keeping the number of infections low because more infections would mean more opportunities for the virus to mutate.

Supporting Salvana’s advice, World Health Organization’s Coordinator for Essential Medicines and Health technologies Dr. Socorro Escalante said control and suppression of the transmission are important in stopping virus mutations.

“It will be more difficult may be if these mutations are very important in terms of increasing transmission or infectivity or even the severity of the illness then it will be more difficult for us to fight Covid-19,” Socorro added.

For her part, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist and past President of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines Dr. Anna Ong-Lim reminded the public to observe the minimum public health standards at all time to control the spread of the coronavirus and the existence of new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-2019.

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