Is virus equal or smaller than our fears?

Published June 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Zoilo P. Dejaresco III
Zoilo P. Dejaresco III

“What good is the hay if the horse is already dead?” is an old English-translated idiomatic expression punctuating the futility of certain things.

Since we are not doctors, we take the other side’s view – of business and economics – if perchance it will give a balanced perspective of the COVID-19 issue.

Sometimes, we get the feeling that we can be over-reacting over the pandemic fear. Often, it is the so-called “fragile health care” system in the country that has been used as a headliner to justify the over-anxiety over the virus.

But if any sovereign nation’s efficacious health care system was the main issue – why is it that the majority of those infected nations are brandishing very good health care systems. False argument?

Also, according to Statistica as of June 8, 2020, among the top ten most infected nations like the USA (1.961million), and others in thousands Brazil (707), Russia (484), UK (288), Spain (241) Italy (235), Peru (198), France (191) and Germany (188)- notice that they all have a cold to mild weather conditions except for India (267).

On the other hand, those in the ASEAN region where most nations are near the tropic center have relatively low incidences (: in thousands,) Indonesia (38), Philippines (23) Malaysia (8), and Thailand (3) with only a few hundred in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Brunei. Has weather differences have something to do with the wide variances between these countries?

The country only has 23,000 cases and just slightly over a thousand deaths – should we, in fact, be panicking? Of the 8 billion humans in the planet, for 6 months since the Wuhan incident in December, the world only recorded 7 million infections and just over 400,000 deaths and a lot bigger percentage have recovered, are our fears proportionate to the threat?

Worldwide, in any one day, 26,000, people reportedly die of cancer, 26.641 of heart diseases.4,300 of diabetes, 300 from suicide,2,700 from mosquito bites (dengue), and 137 from snake bites.

Likewise, even if one contracts the disease for some reason, 81 percent of the cases are reportedly mild, 14 percent moderate, and only 5 percent critical. This means that if one gets the virus, chances are likely one can recover from it.

SARS has a fatality rate of 10% – while Covisis only about 6% (less than one person for every 100) – are our fears standing on solid grounds?

What we have been seeing is an “oido” style of response to the pandemic, causing immense economic suffering across all sectors based on lockdown variants dependent on apparently mere gut feel.

But one side, the scientists at the research center in the University of the Philippines are of the opinion that using statistical modeling analysis, it is determinable how many of the 107 million Filipinos can probably be hit by the virus.

The UP group publicly endorsed that the government uses the “serological” surveys, especially in high-risk areas. This involves testing the blood of people not diagnosed with COVID and use the results to quantify (extrapolate) the proportion of the population probably infected by the disease.

Based on that, one can match that against the souped-up health care system across the nation and determine easily if we can have a firm handle on the future pandemic situation- and determine, therefrom to ease economic and health policies based on that.

(That, plus continue the revved up testing numbers and fund the expensive contact tracing work among those likely to have been infected by others.)

We take comfort in the fact that, against the ill-wishes of doomsday forecasters, the WHO (World Health Organization) recently announced over CNN that it is unlikely that asymptomatic persons can infect others and makes the equation even simpler.

Death, to us, is not just the absence of physical life. There are other deaths borne out of hopelessness over the loss of livelihood and jobs- without which they can not attend to the daily demands of man’s survival and even to address the other common illnesses that had befallen man since time immemorial. They can die of those diseases, too, and especially their elderly dependents -if one does not have enough financial resources.

Is the virus equal to or smaller than our fears? The only way to answer that is through science facts-based research as the only foundation to decide whether a locale should be under MECQ, ECQ, or GCQ. Not “oido”.

We are against policies that tie people to unnecessary inactivity and fear of investing in themselves and in the future of the economy. That is the worse tragedy because in our heart of hearts, one day that vaccine will appear.

Even if the good Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez says our debt to GDP ratio was brought down from 70% to 40% and therefore we can still borrow heavily to stem the economy vs. Covid-19 and provide dole-outs- the government cannot bail out the entire economy, already suffering a negative GDP growth rate in the First Quarter.

Remember that the government can only spend what it has – primarily from taxes, and then-income from government corporations, sales of assets, and borrowings.

But- with our comatose economy, where will the government get its taxes? – from VAT, income, capital gains, oil excise tax, sin taxes etc.? A government cannot borrow forever- because as at a certain crossroads, there will be no more lenders.

This piece is not meant to denigrate the efforts of the government to preserve the health of the nation. We only advocate- as the UP scientists do- that government spends adequate time and funding to scientific researches so that- at long last – our fears will at least be equal to the virus threat. We cannot just be fire-fighting forever.

(Dejaresco is a financial consultant, media practitioner and book author is Chair of Broadcast media of Finex. His views here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex. [email protected])

 
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