THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
“Are we dealing with a seriously disappointed public?”
That was the question asked me last week by a colleague in the local government sector. He had engaged me in a social media chat to find out how I was doing. He had learned that I had tested positive with the COVID-19 virus and is now currently in isolation.
My colleague later asked if the national government could be facing a “backlash” from a “seriously disappointed” public. I asked him regarding the basis for his “observation.” He referred to news items on the ongoing distribution of financial assistance from the national government for underprivileged families. He also referred to the recent announcement by the President that the national government does not have the needed amount of anti-COVID-19 vaccine to meet our countrymen’s demand for the antidote.
“We have to face our disappointments, accept the realities and adapt,” I said.
“Disappointment” happens when our “stark reality” does not meet our “expectation.”
We may have had several significant and shared “expectations” which we held on to and nurtured during the past 12 months.
We may have “expected” the virus to never hit too close to home – that it would not land in the bodies of people we know: Family, friends, co-workers and people whose names and faces are all too familiar to us.
We “expected” our science and pharmaceutical experts to be able to develop and antidote within the first six months of the pandemic.
We expected the pandemic to be over in a about a year’s time. We expected our lives to get back to “normal” in just about the same period.
We expected that the pandemic would just be a brief nightmare from which we can wake up within a short period of time and put it behind us forever.
Now, we are hit by the stark reality.
The COVID-19 virus would not go without a fight. In fact, it appears it is gearing up for a much longer war by mutating and transforming itself into variants at a pace that science could hardly catch up with.
The stark reality is that the virus has hit really close to home. Social media timelines have become virtual obituaries. The faces and names of people who have died from the virus are those of our friends, family members, colleagues and peers. They were people with whom we have just recently engaged in an online conversation. That they would be dead days after that last conversation is shocking.
The number of people infected by the virus has been rising sharply and more people are dying from it. The numbers are grim and may have exceeded the year-ago levels.
Yes, there are now vaccines against COVID-19. The stark reality is there is not enough for everyone.
Yes, it has been more than a year now since the pandemic began. The stark reality is that the end to these difficult times is not yet in sight.
Disappointing. And, the fact is that the disappointment over the stark reality is hounding not just us but the rest of the world.
One of the biggest sources of our disappointment is a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the said report, out of the more than 700 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines that have already been administered, 87 percent have gone to citizens of wealthy countries. Less than one percent of the available doses managed to trickle down to poorer countries including ours.
The report says about one out of five citizens of these wealthy countries have already received the vaccine. In poorer countries, the ratio is one out of every 500.
Despite the fact that wealthier countries appear to have “cornered” the world’s supply of vaccines, they continue to bewail the insufficiency of vaccine supply. To them, there just is not enough as well.
For example, the United Kingdom believes it is behind by some five million doses. The insufficient supply has caused that powerful country to delay the schedule of the vaccination of British subjects.
In the United States, recent reports say that President Biden’s planned massive public relations campaign to convince Americans to get vaccinated has been stalled and may have to be temporarily shelved. Reason: Not enough vaccine supply. Several state governments have been reported to be complaining about “shortfalls” in vaccine supplies.
Bottomline: The lack of sufficient vaccine supply is a challenge not exclusive to us. It is a problem hounding the world.
Disappointing. Many of us thought the vaccine could be manufactured easily and made available to the market just like a new brand of paracetamol.
Our local governments are doing their best to manage the distribution of the limited supply in their hands.
The good news is that, as we write this piece, senior citizens in many of our local communities are still lining up to get their first jab.
Much of today’s stark realities have shred into pieces our previous notion as to how this pandemic will play out. We are struggling with major disappointment.
In next week’s piece, we will share in our column some advice from our friends who have specialized on helping others cope and deal with the emotional challenges triggered by the realities that we have to face today.
The end is not in sight. We will have to brace for a longer journey through stormy seas.
*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to Block 6 Lot 10 Sta. Barbara 1 cor. Bradley St., Mission Hills Subd., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal.