An OCTA Research Team fellow on Monday said the Philippines should “build a wall” of vaccinated individuals in the country’s international gateways to avoid the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

During the President Rodrigo Duterte’s a “Talk to the People” address, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. of OCTA said the most likely entry point of the variant was the country’s airports.

“We must increase the population immunity around our international gateways. Omicron will enter through an airport most likely. And so what we have to do is we have to build a wall of vaccinated Filipinos around these airports,” he said.

“And if the Filipinos around the airports po…are heavily vaccinated, then it doesn’t matter if there is an OFW who returns home. Because even if this person is able to enter the community, the virus will struggle,” he added.

Austriaco said initial data showed that Omicron was “probably less deadly” than Delta.

“Is the Omicron variant more transmissible? It is likely po that it is more transmissible. Is the Omicron variant more immune evasive? Probably po. The initial data seems to look like that. Is the Omicron variant more deadly? And this is the good news po, it’s probably less deadly
than Delta,” he added.

Austriaco said the country should not panic and could celebrate Christmas without worry.

“There is no need to panic. Let us celebrate Pasko. This is the best time in 20 months for the entire country,” he said.

The Philippines has yet to detect a local case of Omicron.

Omicron, or the B.1.1.529 variant, has been declared a variant of concern by the WHO. John Ezekiel J. Hirro