Second vaccinated OFW tests positive for Covid-19

·6 min read

THE Department of Health (DOH) 7 will conduct an antibody test to determine the current level of immunity of the 25-year-old female overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who received a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Canada.

This, after the female OFW still tested positive for Covid-19 upon her arrival in the country.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said the antibody test will determine the individual’s Immunoglobulin (IGg) level, an antibody found in blood and other body fluids that protect the body against bacterial and viral infections.

The 25-year-old OFW is the second reported case involving individuals who still tested positive for Covid-19 despite having received the Covid-19 vaccine.

The first case was a 43-year-old male OFW from Mandaue City who yielded a positive RT-PCR test despite having received two doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country in the Middle East.

Loreche said the 25-year-old OFW received one dose of Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 13. She arrived in Cebu on Feb. 9, then underwent the required quarantine period.

As part of the improved protocol for international arrivals from areas or countries with confirmed cases of Covid-19 variants, the female OFW underwent swabbing on the fifth day of her quarantine, which fell on Feb. 14. Her test yielded positive results.

As the 25-year-old OFW was immediately quarantined upon her arrival in the country, Loreche said there was no need to conduct contact tracing. Loreche said the OFW will have to finish her quarantine period prior to her release.

OFW from UAE

Meanwhile, Loreche said the DOH 7 is also conducting an investigation to determine if the sample from the 43-year-old male OFW from UAE who tested positive for Covid-19 even after receiving a complete dose of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine will fill the criteria for genomic sequencing in the Philippine Genome Center (PGC).

The sample must have a cycle threshold of 30 and below.

“We need to be able to satisfy that and once we already have this, then we will determine if the sample has to be sent to PGC,” she said.

The 43-year-old OFW from Mandaue City had his first dose of vaccination in his workplace in the UAE on Dec. 12, 2020. He had the second dose on Jan. 2, 2021.

He arrived in Cebu on Jan. 5; then he was released on Jan. 20 after completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

As the male OFW was quarantined upon his arrival, Loreche said they did not swab him; however, because he had to go back to his workplace, he was swabbed on Feb. 8. His result was released on Feb. 9, and it was positive.

The individual, Loreche said, has been asymptomatic throughout his stay in Cebu. But four of his household members also tested positive.

Considering that the protocol requiring swab tests upon arrival and on the fifth day of the quarantine was not yet implemented when he arrived, the individual from Mandaue City was not swabbed during his 14-day quarantine, unlike the 23-year-old female OFW.

“As to transmissibility, it would be too early (to say) that the positivity of his household members was from the positive individual. We need more study analytics for this,” she said.

Separate inquiry

The Mandaue City contact tracing team will conduct a separate investigation on the case of the OFW from Mandaue City, said lawyer Julius Caesar Entise, head of the contact tracing team.

Entise said the investigation would lead them to possible reasons on how the OFW got infected even after being vaccinated twice and the possible location of the transmission of the virus.

The OFW and his family are still under home isolation. All of them have experienced mild symptoms of Covid-19.

He said two out of seven members of their family tested negative for Covid-19. The two members who tested negative were isolated from those who tested positive.

Entise said the family of the OFW is constantly communicating with their doctor.

MCCI confidence

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Steven Yu said he remains confident that the Mandaue City Government will be able to handle the Covid-19 case stemming from the OFW.

“The city government has been consistent in testing, tracing and treating affected barangays. Those who tested positive including certain OFWs are isolated, monitored, treated and their close contacts are being traced,” he said.

Yu said city residents are always reminded to adhere to health and safety protocol by wearing masks and observing social distancing.

Not ineffective

Loreche, however, said she did not see the vaccination of the male OFW as ineffective.

She said among the positive contributions of the vaccine are the prevention of severe disease and this is what happened to the male OFW—even though he tested positive, he remained asymptomatic.

The vaccine was successful in helping prevent clinical disease as the individual never developed any symptoms, said Loreche.

As to preventing transmission, which is the third role of the vaccine, Loreche said this is something that they still need to discover by getting reports and studies from the Covid-19

vaccine manufacturers.

“There is an important thing that we also have to think about—that immunity can kick in later. This is a very new vaccine. Whatever vaccine we receive, it may take a while before our bodies develop the antibodies or the defenses that are needed so that when you get exposed to Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19), then your antibodies can work against that invading pathogen,” she said.

Positive for Covid-19 variant

Meanwhile, Loreche also announced that a 53-year-old male OFW from Dubai, UAE who has a residence in Talisay City, Cebu tested positive for the U.K B.1.1.7 variant.

The RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test was conducted in Manila on Jan. 17 and the result came out two days later.

Loreche said the patient was quarantined in Tarlac. He arrived in Cebu on Feb. 7, and he went home to Talisay City on Feb. 8.

No reason to panic

She said there was no reason for the public to panic in this case as health authorities had been able to contact, trace and isolate the individual.

As the individual was tested in Manila, the DOH 7 has no intention of including him in its tally chart of variant cases, Loreche said. (WBS, KFD, JOB)