Vaccines best defense vs. Covid-19, not natural immunity: DOH

PRE-JAB. A health worker checks the blood pressure of a senior citizen at the screening area of a mall vaccination site along Quirino Highway in Caloocan City on Friday (Jan. 7, 2022). Health authorities continuously remind that getting vaccinated is the best protection against Covid-19. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has emphasized anew that the vaccine is still the best defense against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), downplaying an OCTA Research member’s claim that the Omicron variant could act as a natural vaccine.

OCTA Research fellow, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, said Thursday the Omicron variant can act as a natural vaccine as it struggles to infect the lungs that even with 70 times more virus, “the symptoms will likely appear milder.”

Austriaco noted that individuals who survive the Omicron variant will get antibodies that could provide protection against it and such other variants as Delta, Gamma, Beta, Alpha, and D614G.

Thus, population protection is achieved and the pandemic ends, Austriaco claimed.

On the contrary, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said mild symptoms are still manifestations of the infection and are still a way of transmission.

The public must not be complacent even if the variant only manifests mild symptoms, Vergeire said in a message to reporters Friday night.

“The World Health Organization pronounced that the Omicron variant is still a virus and not a natural vaccine,” she said. “The DOH states that the more transmission, the more the virus can mutate and replicate. While we recognize natural immunity, the DOH emphasizes the importance of vaccine-induced immunity.”

Citing that not all individuals can acquire natural immunity, Vergeire noted vaccines provide the best protection from the virus and prevent hospitalization.

“With acquiring the vaccine, we have lower chances of getting severe to critical symptoms. Likewise, in vaccines, it does not only provide protection against the virus but also protection to people around you, especially your loved ones,” she added.

Apart from getting vaccinated, the DOH continuously urges the public to strictly observe minimum public health standards so as not to increase the possibility of virus transmission and mutation that could result in further fatal outcomes.

“By properly following these protocols, we help in mitigating the pandemic. We would like to avoid another Delta picture where our hospitals were fully congested,” Vergeire said. (PNA)

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