MANILA, July 13 (Mabuhay) — New Covid-19 strains like the Delta and Lambda variants are a cause of concern and the government is closely monitoring the country’s border to prevent local transmission.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the assurance after health authorities worldwide raised alarm over Lambda, a Covid-19 variant that has spread rapidly through parts of South America.

Delta variant, first detected in India, has already been found in some 100 countries.

Local health authorities, however, said there is no local case yet of the Delta variant in the Philippines.

Duterte renewed his call for the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19, noting that it is the best form of protection against respiratory disease.

“Our best defense is still to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said in a pre-recorded meeting Talk to the People. “I reiterate my appeal: Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. The life you’ll be saving is not only your own, but of your loved ones and the people around you.”

He also lauded the pace of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive.

“I am pleased to know that as of July 11, more than 3 million Filipinos have received the second dose and with the total of more than 13 million doses so far administered in the country,” he said.

Duterte reminded the public to continue observing minimum public health standards such as wearing face masks, face shields, hand-washing, and physical distancing.

In the same meeting, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo assured that even if the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines is reduced due to the emergence of more infectious variants, they remain effective against these new strains.

The Covid-19 vaccine brands that are currently part of the Philippines’ inventory and have been cleared for emergency use are Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sputnik V, and Moderna.

“Ang mga variant po, nababawasan ng konti yung effifacy ng vaccine pero hindi naman po siya nawawala. Nagiging very useful pa rin po (The variants have reduced the efficacy of vaccines but they are still very useful),” Domingo said.

Duterte, in response, said it is “consoling” to hear that the vaccines still have a “fighting chance” in preventing deaths and severe illness due to Covid-19.

“It seems that we are a little bit safe. Not really totally safe, but I said it is very consoling to hear from you that the present vaccine[s] we are using are as effective although not to its full degree, but rather could give us a minimum of comfort that there is available vaccine and it can be used against the variants,” he said. (MNS)

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