Third consecutive day of more than 20K and the data on 09.05.2021

The Health Agency reports another 20K day with 20,019 new cases today. With almost the same amount of recoveries, the active cases remain the same.

There were more than 73,000 tests done last September 3, with a very high positive rate of 27.5%.

New deaths announced today was 173, bringing the total deaths past the 34,000 mark and the case fatality ratio to 1.78%

Five regions posted quadruple digits today – NCR, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Ilocos Region and Central Visayas. The erratic numbers see in regions outside of NCR plus is most likely from late reports from these regions.

Cavite, Laguna and Rizal retain the top three provinces for the second consecutive day.

Twelve of 17 LGUs in NCR and 6 LGUs in the CALABARZON region are in the top twenty cities with most cases. Only two LGUs in the top twenty – Davao City and Cebu City – are not from NCR plus.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

While the reproduction rate has slowed down this week, this only means that the rise in cases has slowed down. Of course, it is unsettling that we are settling at getting used to the 20,000+ mark, as the Philippines records a 7-day moving average high of almost 18,000 new daily cases. There was a marked decline in death rate, and this may be attributable to two things – that the cases being recorded include breakthrough infections and are mostly mild (with a sprinkling of asymptomatic) and the fact that deaths are reported very late, we are not seeing more accurate reports for now.

While there are more tests done compared to the past weeks, they are mostly done among symptomatic patients. This accounts for the very high positivity rate, which is creating a daily record for positives. A high positive rate implies that we are not testing enough. Even with the increasing tests, the additional 15,000-30,000 tests is not enough. To bring the positivity rate to 10%, we would need to do at least 200,000 – 250,000 tests daily. Without adequate testing, contact tracing will fail.

On a regional level, we are one of the countries with highest cases, and has overtaken Thailand and Vietnam. Notice how well Indonesia has done in bringing down their cases. The data below is correlated well with the data on reproduction rates.

The reproduction rate of Singapore is still the highest in the region. This, however, takes into consideration the number of new cases and the population size of the country. While it is good news that the R in the Philippines has slowed down a bit, the number of cases is still increasing because the reproduction rate is still >1.0. And if you have a R >1.0 with a daily average of 18,000 cases, then that will only mean that we are not anywhere near to seeing a decreasing trend in cases. In short, we have not peaked yet.

Based on reproduction rate, the Philippines was bound to play catch up to Vietnam and Malaysia. Three countries are seeing an R that is less than 1.0 – Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

To address the pandemic is to roll out the only preventive strategy currently approved globally – vaccination. While the Philippines has quite a chunk more of the 17% that have been vaccinated as fully vaccinated, the glut in vaccine availability becomes a challenge. The graph below simply indicates that the supply of vaccines is low, the roll out is slow and the distribution cannot therefore be a balanced one. If the supply was adequate then those that would have received at least a first dose would be way larger.

Because of the lack of vaccines for now, there is a need to stay on course to the original target of the much needed vaccines – the adult population. When the target for the adults have been reached, and there are available vaccines for the pediatric age group and booster shots, then these segments can be considered. The Philippines can also accelerate that full authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has recently been given the nod in the US. Doing so can make this vaccine available in the private sector, without the need for restrictions as provided in an EUA.

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