Life before, during, and after COVID-19

Published May 15, 2021, 12:33 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

Most everyone has been asked this question and I am sure many of us would come up with similar answers.

Being limited in mobility for people used to multi-tasking in various settings could have some psychological consequences. While some who are retired like myself, may enjoy having more quiet time to reflect, read, catch up with Netflix shows, or watch sunrises and sunsets, one can’t go through the same routine over a lengthy period of time.

Thus, the norm for most people would be that of having to postpone vacations and travels within the country and abroad, cancel receptions for weddings, anniversaries and office and family parties, or attendance at live concerts and shows. Meetings have migrated to digital platforms through Zoom. Lack of face-to-face communication had forced many to use Facebook and the social media. Even funeral masses are now held virtually.

Those who work go through considerable restrictions as they are constrained by travel protocols or limited transportation. Most middle class families have to resort to online or other forms of home delivery of food and essentials while the rest of the population – labor, farm, and informal settlers have had to fend for themselves by taking on part-time work as many businesses had been shuttered. Since I let go of my driver several months ago, he now engages in vegetable farming or doing part-time construction work.

We still await studies on impact of online on our students, our most important human resources in the post-COVID era.

The COVID-19 period had given rise to a new “employee group” – the “delivery riders” from small enterprises like Lala Food, Grabfood, Food Panda, and several other delivery apps, and are now considered part of our “frontliners” Some vendors in Metro Manila markets have become enterprising, hiring riders to deliver to their “suki” fresh fish, veggies, fruits, meats and other fresh produce.

A newspaper’s report examines the future of this “scattered work sector” on whether it could become a formal employee group of digital platforms like the situation in the UK and possibly, Spain where they can demand security benefits like insurance and separation pay.

What is the status of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout? Latest reports indicate dissatisfaction about the slow pace of jab rollout. We are nearly midway into the year but only about 2.02 million had been inoculated which is way below the target of 58 million to 70 million to achieve herd immunity.

The delay was caused by the hesitancy of government to start the rollout because of the then lack of available vaccines. This is reportedly due to the quality checks that had to be done. Now that they have arrived and are in storage, we are still confronted with lack of vaccination centers and refusal of some of the priority groups to be inoculated.

“We need vaccine awareness, promotion and good supply management to get the vaccines administered to as many at the fastest time possible, and with least amount of wastage,” notes former government pandemic adviser, Dr. Tony Leachon. But how do we go about this?

I was recently asked “to play “prognosticator” and “envision the COVID situation by the end of the year. What then should I say?

I would like to be positive and hope we can attain herd immunity by then. But some doubt that and believe it would take more than a year to reach the goal given the present situation where only 40,000 to 60,000 are inoculated daily. The magic number should be about 100,000 but this would depend on suggestions by experts on the control of the various variables, i.e., increase in number of vaccination centers, smart handling of storage of vaccines that have brief shelf life, or giving away extra vaccines to the private sector to administer.

It may be necessary to schedule an extra day like Saturday and to start at 7 a.m. and continue till 7 p.m. But this would of course require an additional shift. The more challenging task is motivating every Filipino to trust the safety of the vaccine and the system.

Those who have undergone the inoculation would attest to the efficiency of the vaccination system. It is in the decision processes at the higher levels, and we don’t mean only in the deployment of the vaccine, but other aspects of decision-making made by the Inter-Agency Task Force, the local government, the Department of Health, and the economists.

Calibrating is how economists describe the ability to manage health and safety concerns together with that of economic survival Since our economy is now in its longest recession since the foreign debt crisis in the 1980’s, government should now come up with innovative strategies that would ensure economic survival as it focuses on the more serious challenge of addressing surges in number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

I believe most would agree that the effective management of COVID-19 could become the litmus test as it would determine attributes needed for future governance.

My email, [email protected]