By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

According to infectious disease expert, Dr. Edsel Salvana, COVID-19 cases continue to drop across all major island groups in the Philippines. However, he states that the RATE of the drop is slowing down. This is typical as the level of community transmission seeks a new baseline, he writes on his Facebook page Thursday.

The member of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group continues: With Delta being the dominant variant with an R0 of 5 to 8 compared to an R0 of 2 to 2.5 for the original SARS Cov-2 virus, the community baseline transmission will likely settle at a level that is 2 to 3 times that of the previous variants. The BEST way to get this lower is to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

R-naught (R0) is a value that can be calculated for communicable diseases. It represents, on average, the number of people that a single infected person can be expected to transmit that disease to. In other words, it is a calculation of the average “spreadability” of an infectious disease.

Dr. Salvana explains: Rt (reproductive number) will become less relevant once we reach the new setpoint of transmission, especially if the cases remain low. To illustrate, an Rt of 0.5 can mean a drop of cases from 10000 to 5000 in 5 days, but an increase in cases from 500 to 1000 in 5 days would give an Rt of 2. Therefore, as cases go down, it will be important to pay attention to to the absolute number of cases and the positivity rate rather than the Rt.

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If the NCR cases stay at around 600/day as they have been for the last few days, then the Rt will be 1.0. If it maintains at that low level, it will mean we have reached a new setpoint. Beyond that, the only way to decrease further will be to vaccinate more while sticking to our MPHS. Moreover, even if there are large increases in cases like in the UK, the hospitalizations and deaths will remain low if many have been vaccinated. Even with the emerging threat of Delta plus in the UK, their deaths have remained at 200/day in contrast to more than 1,500 deaths/day last January 2021. This clearly shows that all vaccines continue to work against severe disease, even against Delta plus.

Understanding what to expect and using proper metrics is important in order to respond appropriately to evolving challenges of COVID-19. As we increase mobility, the more important metrics will be number of severe cases, number of people requiring hospitalization, healthcare utilization and capacity, and case fatality rate. If we properly respond to these new challenges, we will be ok.

Health officials reported 5,279 new infections Sunday, bringing the pandemic total to 2,756,923. In addition, 208 new deaths were reported, bringing the total death toll due to the coronavirus to 41,793.

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