Filipinos, even those who have been fully vaccinated, should not deliberately catch COVID-19 in hopes of gaining "natural immunity," the country's vaccine expert panel chairperson said on Jan. 21.
At a Laging Handa public briefing, Dr. Nina Gloriani stressed that even if breakthrough COVID-19 infections happen, which "technically" boost natural immunity, it doesn't necessarily mean that one should actively find ways to contract the virus.
"Kapag nagkaroon ng (COVID-19) infection, magkakaroon tayo talaga ng natural immunity, ano," Gloriani said. "Pero hindi tama iyong exposure na pinilit para magkaroon ng natural immunity. It will not work."
Gloriani reminded the public that much remains to be known about COVID-19, and one must avoid it as much as possible by strictly observing public health protocols.
"Hindi pa natin alam kung anong magiging resulta sa inyo. Puwede sa isang bata na maganda ang general health status, magre-recover siya as mild," she said. "Pag ang natamaan, elderly o immunocompromised, baka maospital, mag-critical care, o baka mas masahol pa, mamatay."
"Ang mga bakuna, hindi 100% nagbibigay ng proteksiyon. Magkakaroon pa rin kayo (ng COVID-19) kapag di kayo nag-iingat," she added.
Gloriani urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, especially with the threat of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
In the Czech Republic, AFP reported that an anti-va folk singer has recently died after she deliberately contracted Covid to obtain a health pass that would have allowed her to visit the sauna and theater.
Hana Horka died on Jan. 16 at the age of 57, according to her son Jan Rek. She voluntarily exposed herself to the virus when her husband and son, both vaccinated, caught it before Christmas, Rek told public radio iRozhlas.cz.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Jan. 19 has detected 492 additional Omicron cases, bringing the country's total to 535.
The DOH also reported the country's first two Omicron variant deaths, noting that both of them were over 60 years old, unvaccinated, and had preexisting medical conditions.
The agency on Jan. 15 had confirmed that there's already a community transmission of the Omicron variant in Metro Manila, where most of the strain has been detected.
As of Jan. 20, the DOH said some 122 million COVID-19 jabs have been administered nationwide.
About 59.6 million Filipinos have received their first dose, while 56.8 million have received their second dose. Around 5.8 million, meanwhile, have received their booster shots.