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Galvez’s claim that face shields helped curb Delta spread premature


There is no evidence that face shields contributed to the controlled transmission of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the Philippines, contrary to a premature claim by National Task Force Against COVID-19’s chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. that it did.


Galvez expressed his support for the reimplementation of the mandatory face shield policy in an interview with CNN Philippines last Nov. 29. He emphasized the importance of face shields amid the threat of the Omicron variant, citing the previous experience of the Philippines with the Delta variant without presenting data or other evidence to support his statement..


Galvez stated, at the 15:37 mark:

Kasi nakita namin even the WHO, ‘yung nangyari sa atin sa Delta talagang na-control natin ang transmission. We were able to really avoid ‘yung excessive deaths and also we were able to withstand ‘yung hospitalization. It’s because of the extra protection given by the face shield (We saw, even the WHO, what happened with Delta we were able to control the transmission. We were able to really avoid excessive deaths and also we were able to withstand hospitalization).

In an online press briefing last Aug. 31, World Health Organization Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe reported that the organization launched a review of the country’s experience on the use of face shields to combat COVID-19.


While he recognized the ability of the Philippines to “sort of delay the speed at which the Delta variant is spreading,” Abeyasinghe said it remains unknown whether the face shields played a “contributory factor.”


“While we are understanding all of these issues, it’s best to look for evidence and make our decisions based on that,” he added after being asked if the government should scrap the mandatory use of face shields.


Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that face shields are “not as effective at protecting you or the people around you from respiratory droplets” due to the large gaps they leave alongside the face. It also said, “The evaluation of face shields is ongoing, but effectiveness is unknown at this time.”


Both the WHO and CDC have not recommended the creation of a policy on the use of face shields to combat COVID-19.


The policy on face shields was first implemented in December 2020. It was lifted by President Rodrigo Duterte last Nov. 15 following a recommendation from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases' to allow voluntary use of face shields in areas under Alert levels 1, 2, and 3.


Earliest documentation of the Delta variant occurred in India in October 2020. Health undersecretary Maria Vergeire reported the Philippines’ first case of local transmission during a Jul. 15 press briefing. As of Nov. 21, the country logged a total of 7,038 Delta variant cases.


The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa on Nov. 24. It was classified as a variant of concern on Nov. 26. (LKA)


References


ABS-CBN News. (2021, August 31). WHO Philippines holds briefing on Delta variant in the country | ABS-CBN News [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_NJg4OdcMo&t=2902s


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance for wearing masks. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your guide to masks. from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html


CNN Philippines. (2021, November 29). Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez | The Source [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FKXJUF4ilE


Department of Health. (2021, July 16). DOH beat COVID-19 media forum | July 16, 2021 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbUJy13dfBc


Department of Health. (2021, November 22). DOH beat COVID-19 media forum | November 22, 2021 [Video]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDOHgov/videos/1112390376233443/


Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. (2020, December 14). Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution No. 88. https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2020/12dec/20201214-IATF-Resolution-88-RRD.pdf


Office of the President of the Philippines. (2021, November 15). Protocols on the use of face shields [Memorandum]. https://mirror.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2021/11nov/20211115-MEMO-FROM-ES-RRD.pdf


World Health Organization (2021, November 26). Classification of Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern. https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern


World Health Organization. (2021, December 6). Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants. https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/

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