Many are trying to make sense of the new growing surge of positive coronavirus cases. The rising numbers paint a bleak opening to 2022. Meanwhile, the lack of regime change and structural reforms deny us the political power to make good things happen, while preventing the bad ones from recurring.
Here are 12 points to help us grasp and understand what’s happening and what needs to be done:
1. Vaccines work. Vaccines did not promise immunity. What vaccines guaranteed is protection from severe symptoms, hospitalization and death from infection. The good job of vaccines could be seen in the mild, flu-like symptoms felt by the fully-vaccinated yet Omicron-stricken people.
2. If you’re unvaccinated, that may not be the case. Without the protection of vaccines, Omicron may cause you more serious symptoms. In other words, please do not mistake Omicron as mild COVID-19. It appears to be mild only to the fully-vaccinated.
3. Good nutrition, vegetables, supplements, medicine for dogs, and prayers cannot protect you from COVID-19. Delta and Omicron are unafraid of greens, vitamins and ivermectin. We have a lot of proof of this in the form of urns, where the remains of persons who reject science now lie in rest. Let us respect and obey doctors and scientists; God also created them to help us.
4. The pandemic is a public health and humanitarian crisis caused by a rogue coronavirus. People of various faiths are called to address people’s sufferings, not to justify them as an example of God’s wrath or perhaps a sign of the world’s demise.
5. Compared to past pandemics that slowly killed hundreds of millions of defenseless persons, there are quicker scientific and technological responses to the current one, and those responses give people hope. We now have a lot of vaccines and treatments that have been developed faster than ever before, thanks to the accumulation of knowledge, superior tools, and courageous experts.
6. Government should do everything in it’s power to vaccinate more people. The costs of mass vaccination and even incentives for the hesitant are smaller compared to seeing more people get seriously and critically sick.
7. Paid vaccination leaves, paid vaccination side-effects leaves, improved registration and queueing systems, more vaccine supplies to the provinces, transparency in what’s available in vaccination centers, and many other measures should be considered. Omicron obviously moves faster so government should not be found sleeping on the job.
8. Omicron doesn’t discriminate between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. It can infect anyone. Neither should the government and the private sector discriminate. Discrimination against the unvaccinated mistakenly paints people as the problem, when it is the coronavirus that we should unite against.
9. Now more than ever, we need free mass testing. The more persons we test, the better for everyone. With free mass testing, we make government do its job, we find who and how many are sick, and we would be able to make or propose informed decisions towards addressing and ending the pandemic.
10. Limited and private sector-led testing have magnificently failed the people of the Philippines in many ways: Failed to test millions, failed to serve the poor, failed to improve, speed up and secure the release of results, failed to compensate health workers and scientists adequately, and failed to provide a sufficient data-driven basis for policy. The state must really lead, armed with the lessons from the ill-fated limited and commercialized testing.
11. “We’re all in this together” is a superior idea than “you’re on your own”. This is true especially for healthcare frontliners, minimum wage and contractual workers, PUV drivers and operators, professionals, SMEs and entrepreneurs, and others deprived of adequate pandemic assistance whether medical or financial. If billions could be easily funneled to Pharmally, there should be no problem appropriating trillions for wage and salary hikes, aid, stimulus funds, and a modern public health care system.
12. Our common problem is the virus, not people. We must save and secure the people from the virus. Yes, even “Poblacion Girl” must be treated until she gets well enough to face prosecution. We must take care of one another, prioritize the vulnerable, and combat the incompetence and corruption of the authorities, and their connivance with elite groups whose wealth has obscenely ballooned amid the pandemic. People over profits.