THREAD: The OCTA Research group holds a media briefing on the trend of COVID-19 cases in the country. OCTA Research fellow Guido David notes current upward trend in cases in Metro Manila | LIVE

Tweets by our digital producer @laratyan
The number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City is decreasing and reproduction number is on a downward trend, OCTA fellow Guido David says
OCTA reports the 4 LGUs in Metro Manila with sharp two-week rise in new COVID-19 cases: Pasay (91% increase), Quezon City (58% increase), Manila, and Makati
Molecular biologist and OCTA fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco presents the new COVID-19 variants.

The Philippines has confirmed cases of the UK and South Africa variants, the variant first detected in Brazil has not yet reached the country.
Fr. Austriaco on B.1.1.7 UK variant: It is 50% to 70% more transmissible. It has a higher infection rate. There is data that it is more transmissible in children.
Fr. Austriaco says the B1.351 South Africa variant is the "most concerning" because it can reduce the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccines from 70% down to a mere 10% protection.

PH gov't, local gov't units, private firms were able to secure 17M doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.
Fr. Austriaco says an additional booster shot of AstraZeneca is needed to fight off the COVID-19 variant first found in South Africa. This means a person will need three doses of AstraZeneca vaccines instead of the normal two doses.
OCTA Research fellow Ranjit Rye: We are in the early stages of a potentially serious surge in Metro Manila. We are dealing now with new variants, game-changing variants. We see a significant rise in cases.
Amid the presence of two new COVID-19 variants, OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye says high-risk LGUs can further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase in transmissions in their communities
OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye also encourages declaring localized lockdowns with stricter border controls
OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye on importance of genome sequencing amid presence of UK, South Africa variants in PH: Biosurveillance is now a national security concern
OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye: Now is not the time to loosen restrictions. In fact we now have to be stricter.
OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye appeals to private business owners: Invest in your employees by increasing testing
OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye: There will be a significant increase of cases by end of March. We encourage, while the surge is still manageable, healthcare workers to get vaccinated with the vaccines available. There is a window of opportunity before the surge hits our hospitals.
Fr. Austriaco: There is evidence from Brazil, but not yet published, that the Sinovac vaccines are effective against the South Africa variant
Fr. Austriaco says the UK variant does not have the same component as the South Africa variant that affects the efficacy of COVID-19 variants: The UK variant does not experience immune escape
Fr. Austriaco on vaccines effective against South Africa variant: In terms of long-term goal, you may want to pick Sinovac over AstraZeneca. It will protect you against the variant while AstraZeneca will not.
OCTA fellow Ranjit Rye: There is a solidarity in OCTA that the best vaccine is the vaccine that is available now

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