What the numbers say


Dr. Jun Ynares

Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) reported the highest ever number of new cases of COVID-19 infections in a single day. The count hit a record-high 22,300-plus new cases in August 30, up from the recent peak of 19,000-plus in August 28.

The report was alarming, even shocking. We had been hoping that we would never hit the 20,000-mark for a single-day record. What we wished would never take place had happened.

We are now wondering why and how we got there.

To ask these questions is important. After all, the unprecedented spike in the numbers happened at a time when a significant percentage of the population has already received first and second doses of the vaccine. Did we not expect that there would be less people who would be getting sick as more people are inoculated against the deadly virus?

The record-high number disappointed us. Before the disappointment graduates into a despair, let’s understand what the numbers really want to say.

First, the numbers are a warning. They are telling us that the virus is not about to go away. It is now waging a protracted war against us. It is mutating in an apparent bid to keep humanity under siege for a longer period of time. The numbers warn that we are now dealing with a variant of the virus that may be more vicious than its parent.

Just last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the Delta Variant has not become the dominant COVID-19 virus strain in the country – as it has in many parts of the world. The variant is now being transmitted locally. Recent findings also indicate that this variant is “fitter and faster” as a media report described it. It can infect more people and can infect them faster.

Health authorities have been quick to assure us that the vaccines available to the world today are effective against all variants. Laboratory tests in big countries started to study this concern at the start of the year. The consensus appears to be that the vaccines are still effective against the mutated versions of the original virus.

Second, the numbers say that we may have become both restless and complacent.

Are we entertaining the false notion that we will no longer be infected by the virus once we have completed the required doses of the vaccine?

We hope not. Otherwise, the vaccine may have lulled many of us into thinking that we are now insulated forever from the virus.

Let the numbers remind us that even those who have been vaccinated may be infected by the virus. They also remain potential – and dangerous – carriers and transmitters of the disease.

Once again, for the record: The vaccine gives some assurance that we may be able to avoid suffering from serious and critical levels of COVID-19 infections. Unless we have serious comorbidities, the vaccine may even help us avoid death from having contracted this deadly disease.

We may still suffer from mild infections. The infection may even be asymptomatic, thanks to the vaccine. However, it is the absence of symptoms of infection which may be partly to blame for the rapid spread. It is possible that people who have been vaccinated have been walking around with a false sense of invincibility and passing on the virus to others.

Third, the numbers remind us that established health protocols must continue to be observed, regardless of what percent of the population we may have already vaccinated.

More than ever, we must stay at home when we have no important business to perform outside of the safety of our abode.

We must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The protocols may have ceased to be “temporary measures.” The numbers say that we may have to embrace the protocols as part of our daily life under the “new normal.”

Finally, the numbers say “we remain at war” against an unseen, cunning enemy.

No war is ever won without the collaboration of friendly forces.

The numbers say we have to work together or we perish.

Government health officials and research organizations predict that the numbers will continue to rise.

We can collaborate to make sure that the prediction is proven wrong.

*For feedback, please email it to antipolocitygov@gmail.com or send it to Block 6 Lot 10 Sta. Barbara 1 cor. Bradley St., Mission Hills Subd., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Rizal.