Published August 13, 2020, 10:30 PM

by Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ


We still have to talk about COVID-19. It is a virus and we have never been able to make a virus go away as Mr. Trump says. We have been stymied by viruses. Other germs we have been able to shoo away or conquered but not viruses. We have a number of viruses from bubonic plague to small pox down to dengue and corona virus. All we have been able to do is create a vaccine that when they appear we make our immune system create an antibody to fight them. One of our most feared viruses is the rabies virus and the other is dengue.  They are still common among us and we are afraid of mad dogs and mosquitoes because they are the transmitters of these viruses. We have not made these viruses to go away.  What is worse is that they mutate and new viruses appear on our horizon.  A new virus was predicted by our epidemiologists. Last year we turned a deaf ear to their predictions.  In their studies these mutations come in a regular pattern.  It could have been a virus that developed among bats or a virus that escaped from experimentation in the laboratory but one was due to appear from the study of history of epidemics. What was wrong with COVID-19 was that we were not prepared for it. We did not have a vaccine to combat it.

               Once we have a vaccine, the target is herd immunity meaning that an infected person cannot spread it to the whole group because the members of the group will be mostly immune to the virus because of vaccination.  The early European settlers in America decimated the American Indians by giving them blankets contaminated with small pox. It was some time before the Indians developed herd immunity by having enough of their members contract the disease and become immune to it. Our scientists have also found that certain blood types and ethnic groupings are more susceptible to different viruses as in the case of Ebola.

President Trump in his wish to get rid of COVID-19 focused on quinine derivatives when he could have focused on something that could have been more productive as shark oil, coconut oil, or tawatawa.  These need to be studied. The national leaders who were women were more successful in convincing their people to follow the recommendations of the epidemiologists. Our President has been more successful than President Trump.  But even here many people have not followed what was recommended by the scientists. In Cagayan de Oro and in other parts of Mindanao the barangay officials have been most cooperative. They check on the self- quarantine situations of the new arrivals. They visit or at least call by phone the new arrivals.

               President Trump has at last accepted that wearing masks is important in preventing the spread of the virus. But it is too late. Too many have already died unnecessarily. Our scientists say that if we wear masks, wash our hands, avoid crowds, keep social distance, we can still conquer CONVID-19. South America, especially Brazil and its favelas, is suffering especially bad.   Let us pray that this virus finally leave us.

<[email protected]>