Unvaccinated represent 93% of COVID-19 deaths in Iloilo City

Inday Espina-Varona
Unvaccinated represent 93% of COVID-19 deaths in Iloilo City

VACCINE SIMULATION. Iloilo City prepares for vaccination in this simulation exercise in January 2021.

Arnold Almacen/Iloilo City Mayor's Office

226 of 243 persons who died of COVID-19 since January 2021 were not vaccinated, says Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas reiterated his appeal for more COVID19 vaccine supplies on Monday, August 9, saying that unvaccinated patients comprise 93% of all deaths linked to the viral infection from January to August 7.

Treñas, citing a report by the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) of the City Health Office (CHO), said 226 of 243 persons who died of COVID-19 since January 2021 were not vaccinated.

The city started its vaccination program in March 2021. The first vaccine shipment, from Chinese-made Sinovac, arrived in the Philippines in February.

The majority of the fully vaccinated who became COVID-positive were asymptomatic and some had mild symptoms, while only a few were with moderate symptoms, Treñas said in his daily Facebook update. Very few of those vaccinated, even with comorbidities, showed severe symptoms, Treñas added.

Delta variant in the city

The mayor stressed the need “to prepare early for a massive rollout to reach as many people as possible amid threats of the more contagious Delta variant.” He also said the city’s supplies are good only until August 17.

Also on August 8, Iloilo City announced 68 new COVID-19 cases, including two returning residents and an APOR (authorized person outside of residence). It reported 54 new cases on August 6.

The Department of Health (DOH), in the first week of August, said genome sequencing tests showed three persons from the city were infected with the more transmissible Delta variant

Treñas, on August 8, said the DOH has warned that the cases, which could not be linked to incoming travelers with the variant, indicate community transmission.

All three patients have already recovered, but the city’s COVID-19 task force will be asking their families and close contacts to undertake new RT-PCR tests.

“The nature of contagion and virulence of the Delta variant is such that vaccination has become an urgent necessity. With the vast capacity of our vaccination team and facilities, the only concern left is the vaccine supply,” the mayor stressed.

The city has put a ceiling of up to 10,000 vaccines a day while still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) up to August 15.

“With waiting time because of extended ECQ, we continue to reiterate to our residents to stay home and get vaccinated when it’s their turn,” Treñas added.

Retired general Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the COVID-19 National Task Force, said on August 5 that Iloilo City would soon receive 45,000 new doses of Sinovac vaccines and 50,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Treñas also announced on August 6 that the city would purchase P414-million worth Astra Zeneca and Novavax vaccines.

With the government supplies, this would allow Iloilo City to immunize  85% of its half a million population, he added.

Addressing the problems of Panay Island’s lone crematorium, the mayor said the Forest Lake cemetery plans to build a new one to meet the surge in demand due to COVID-19 deaths.

“They will also procure a mobile crematorium. The city will be assisting them to fast-track their application,” Treñas said.

The Gegato Abecia Funeral Homes and Crematory announced early August a three-week moratorium on new cremations to free up a service backlog.

The move prompted the four provinces of Panay Island and the island province of Guimaras to scramble for dedicated COVID-19 burial spaces.

The crematorium also announced it will have a bigger machine to increase capacity from the current maximum of 20 bodies to a hundred. –