Mitigation measures vs Covid

While people must never relax against Covid-19, it can no longer be allowed to straitjacket nations and the world in general as we all move into the new normal.

September 6, 2022

Amid disturbing reports of vaccines expiring and Filipinos developing hesitancy to get booster shots against the coronavirus disease 2019, the Philippines may look like it is still well within the global curve of efforts to inoculate people against the virus.

Figures from Our World in Data showed that by 18 August 2022, the Philippines has administered 167 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with 72.3 million Filipinos fully vaccinated, representing 65.9 percent of the population or about 5 percent off the target.

Worldwide, 12.6 billion vaccine doses had been administered to 4.92 billion people, a figure that’s 63.1 percent of the total global population. Certainly, the Philippines’ 65.9 percent vaccination rate trumps the international average. But not so fast.

As scientists and medical experts have warned that the protection provided by the primary doses of Covid-19 vaccines wanes in time, no matter what the vaccine brand may be, getting boosted is of utmost importance, especially as nations open their economies and people co-mingle more, thereby increasing risks of Covid transmission.

Businessman Joey Concepcion this week noted that Filipinos may be learning to live with Covid, although vaccination rates hardly moved in the past month. Citing data from the national Covid-19 vaccination dashboard, Concepcion said only 18.1 million Filipinos have gotten booster shots even if 71.5 million are eligible for them.

Likewise, he warned that Covid cases are being underreported due to a reliance on antigen testing that does not provide as high a test result accuracy as the so-called gold standard of Covid tests, the RT-PCR or Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction test.

A member of the Presidential Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Private Sector Advisory Council, Concepcion stressed that the government should hasten its decision on the extension of the State of Public Health Emergency until the end of 2022. He said much of the strategies against Covid would depend on the extension, including whether the vaccines would only be available under Emergency Use Authorization or through commercial channels through the issuance of Certificates of Product Registration.

Meanwhile, Concepcion proposed a shift to a mitigation strategy since at the onset, vaccination had been optional and not mandatory, meaning government cannot force it on anyone. Part of a mitigation strategy would be to stock up on antiviral pills like Molnupiravir and Paxlovid.

“The economy at this time is the biggest priority, with the rising prices and interest rates; our consumers and micro, small and medium enterprises will be affected. Consumer spending cannot wane because our gross domestic product will be affected,” Concepcion said in a statement.

That’s the bottom line, really, that while people must never relax against Covid-19, it can no longer be allowed to straitjacket nations and the world in general as we all move into the new normal.

The vaccination drive that has practically stalled — with the vax centers practically empty or “nilalangaw” — must be rejuvenated by making the jabs available to anyone who wants them, and not just to those who may be eligible for them, but are reluctant or have taken a cavalier attitude toward the virus.


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