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New vaccines seen necessary against new strains of Omicron

THE Philippines may need to bring in new vaccines to deal with emerging subvariants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) omicron strain without having to impose mobility restrictions, a government adviser said.

Jose Maria A. Concepcion III, Go Negosyo founder and member of the Marcos government’s Private Sector Advisory Council, said in a statement on Tuesday that the new types of vaccines, known as bivalent vaccines, offer better protection against the Omicron XBB and XBC subvariant recently detected in the Philippines.

According to Mr. Concepcion, the Philippines needs “up-to-date protection” to safeguard the recovery, which is being pressured by surging commodity prices, interest rates, and the weakening peso in the runup to the yearend, which many businesses depend on for their earnings. 

The Health department reported on Tuesday that the 81 cases of subvariant XBB and 193 cases of XBC variant have been detected in the Philippines.

“This fourth quarter is so important because it is when business momentum increases and many jobs are created, especially in food and retail. It’s also when businesses can have enough cash flow and cross over to 2023,” Mr. Concepcion said.

“There is no need to restrict movement; people only need to be careful. Businesses already know their own health protocols, and by now they have that experience,” he added.

Mr. Concepcion said bivalent vaccines may help do away with the need for restricting mobility, which were damaging to the economy in the pandemic’s early days.   

“The number of cases may go up, but as long as the hospitals are not at full capacity, the economy can remain open,” Mr. Concepcion said.

Mr. Concepcion said that he sent a letter to the Health department on Oct. 12 pledging private sector aid in bringing in and distributing bivalent vaccines, adding that his recommendation is to limit the choice of supplier to Pfizer and Moderna.

“Of utmost importance besides pre-registration is the least disruption in the personal cost and work schedule of those to be vaccinated who are battling more pressing concerns. We can re-activate arrangements and partnerships that have worked well in our previous implementation,” Mr. Concepcion said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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