Since March this year, the world has been going through the gravest health and economic crisis in 100 years due to COVID-19. As of this writing three days ago, it has infected 72,556,942 people and claimed 1,637,155 lives worldwide. The US has the highest in the world – 16,446,844 cumulative cases with 301,536 deaths.
In our country, as of December 17, 2020, we have 452,988 collective cases with 8,833 deaths.
The World Bank reported that COVID-19 has also pushed an additional 88 million people into extreme poverty (those who live on less than $1.90 or less than P100 per day) worldwide, and could go as a high as 115 million. It also projected that many of these new extremely poor would be in South Asia.
The recent major advances in COVID-19 vaccines, however, have offered hope to millions of people around the world who have been experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic on lives and economies, and which continues to unleash its wrath.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are currently more than 200 COVID-19 vaccines in development worldwide. Those which have reportedly shown positive late-stage trial results are the vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca PLC and partner University of Oxford, Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Sinopharm Group Co. Ltd., and the Moscow-based Gamalaya Research Institute.
Last December 8, 2020, a 90-year-old British grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It was administered by a Filipino nurse May Parsons. It was a historic moment for the whole world, particularly the Philippines.
In the midst of the countries’ seeming pandemonium to secure COVID-19 vaccines for their peoples, we support the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make the vaccines “accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere.”
With the breakthroughs in the COVID-19 vaccines, we Filipinos and the international community are finally seeing light at the end of the long and dark coronavirus tunnel.
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With just five days to go before Christmas, on behalf of our wife, charity worker and former congresswoman Gina de Venecia, and our son, Pangasinan Congressman Christopher de Venecia, we wish to greet you our readers, friends, relatives, and the Filipino people a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Indeed the year 2020 has been plagued with so many challenges, struggles, and uncertainties here in our beloved country and around the world. In the Philippines, especially, we were battered by the Taal Volcano eruption, successive typhoons, and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the occasional socio-economic and political disruptions.
Many have lost properties, livelihood, and even family members, relatives, and friends.
In the midst of them all, we Filipinos have kept our faith, our optimism, and our resilience. Truly, the Filipino spirit is indomitable.
Merry Christmas to us all, and let us hope and pray for a safe, better, healthy New Year for the Philippines and for all peoples around the world!