Bivalent COVID jabs are essential in a looser face mask mandate – expert

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) employees receive their Pfizer vaccine booster at the Rockwell Business Center in Mandaluyong City on September 7, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News

MANILA — An infectious disease expert on Tuesday highlighted the need to have bivalent vaccines for COVID-19 accessible in the country amid a looser face mask mandate locally.

Dr. Edsel Salvaña said bivalent vaccines, which target newer variants of concern, offer additional protection against COVID-19 on top of older shots.

This would not be available in the Philippines until the first quarter of 2023, the health ministry had said.

“Mukhang more able to protect the neutralization capability of more than multiple omicron variants like B21, XBB, and the same important protection for high-risk populations,” Salvaña said during a public briefing.

(Its neutralization capacity against new omicron variants is higher. What is more important in this additional protection is the benefit that the high-risk population will derive from it.)

Video of PTV

“In addition to mask mandates, more antibody protection and better neutralizing antibody capabilities, it helps restore protection against infection and not just serious illness,” he added.

(Now that we’re lifting mask mandates, the protection it provides through neutralizing antibody capabilities will surely help restore protection not just against serious disease.)

He stressed the importance of wearing face masks even as the country relaxes its internal and external protocols.

This should become one of the government’s public health interventions if someone is at risk for COVID-19 and new infections have increased in the community.

“The important thing to realize is that protection against severe disease, even with old vaccines and bivalent vaccines, is just another layer of protection with masks, monovalent boosters,” he said. .

Last month, Dr Nina Gloriani said vulnerable populations like the elderly and the sick would benefit the most from the protection offered by newly developed bivalent vaccines.

While more than 73.6 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, only 20.7 million, or more than a quarter, have received at least one booster dose as of Nov. 9, based on the COVID-19 vaccine tracker. of the DOH.

Meanwhile, the health department said there was still no recommendation for children ages 5 to 11 to receive a COVID-19 booster, citing lack of evidence to support the decision.

There is also no application currently filed by vaccine manufacturers.

– with reporting by Raphael Bosano and Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

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