THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
The proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” seems to be shining brighter as we entered the first month of 2021. That light has inspired much hope and has strengthened our faith in the possibility that 2021 shall be the year of our economic and social recovery.
A major source of that hope is the looming arrival to our country of the vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.
Based on statements made by national government officials, that much-awaited event could happen as early as the last week of next month. We are keeping our fingers crossed that our countrymen could begin receiving the vaccine shots before the second quarter of this year.
There are two important actions taken by national government officials which further boosted that sense of hope.
First, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) announced that it is issuing the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the vaccine developed under the collaboration of two international pharmaceutical giants. Based on media reports, the FDA appears set to issue the same authorization to vaccines developed in China and other countries.
Second, the President gave the greenlight to local governments regarding the selection of the appropriate vaccine for the latter’s constituents.
These steps taken by the national government have brought us closer to the one aspiration we shared almost a year ago – that an antidote to the deadly virus would be developed soon. It is now clear to one and all that a vaccine would soon land in our country and that a mass inoculation will happen in the very near future.
The vaccine is real; it is now more than just a dream.
The two moves by the national government are wise decisions. They have torpedoed a host of misleading assumptions made by certain quarters. Among these misleading assumptions were that the country would be tied up to just on vaccine from one country; and, that only the national government can procure a vaccine and distribute it.
Because of these wise moves, a host of local governments have started to set aside funds for the procurement of the first available vaccine. Some of them have already inked procurement agreements with specific vaccine developers.
Antipolo City, for example, has set aside some P300 million for the purchase of the vaccine against COVID-19. Makati City tops the list with about a billion pesos set aside for the purpose.
This is a major and important investment on the part of local governments. The funds set aside for the purchase of the vaccine represent an “economic stimulus” of sorts. From the viewpoint of local governments, as soon as their constituents feel and believe that they are safer from infection and contamination, they would resume their enterprises, expand their businesses and return to their normal work routine.
The advent of a vaccine and the start of a mass vaccination drive at the local community level is a crucial first step to the normalization of life. This is why local governments are now undertaking preparations for this unprecedented activity. Some local governments have instituted online pre-registration. Most of them are now drawing up a list indicating the order of priority which will be the basis of who gets the vaccine first in their respective localities.
True, there are “noises” accompanying the country’s preparation for the coming of the vaccine from various developers.
There is the “political noise” coming from certain quarters seeking to cast doubt on the integrity of the procurement process for the vaccine.
There is the “social noise” apparently being fomented by those who cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
As we said, these are “noises.”
We must not let these “noises” distract us from the important task of preparing ourselves and our communities for vaccination and the return of our economy – and our lives – to a state of normalcy.
More than ever, there is reason to hold on to this hope. We must not let noise-mongers take that hope away from us.
Meanwhile, the United States of America is set to witness the inauguration of its next president and vice president this coming week. This momentous event is set to take place after months of political chaos culminating in a riot at the US Capitol, a building in Washington, DC considered by most Americans as the “temple” of their democracy.
The world appeared to have been shocked by the many images of this riot. The common thought was, “how can this happen in America?”
While we have no direct stake in American politics, we share the sense of relief that the inauguration of the next American president appears to be taking place soon without further delay and without further political obstacles.
What happens in America does have an effect on most parts of the world, including the Philippines. It is in our best interest to support the continued flourishing of peace and of a healthy democracy in that country.
We wish incoming US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as they lead their nation starting the 20th of this month.
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