THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
The past week was definitely a “first quarter storm.”
News reports confirmed our fear that we are headed for another surge, perhaps more deadly than the previous spikes in COVID-19 daily infection rates.
Amid this January “storm,” an American-Filipino priest, Father Nicanor Austriaco, Jr., boldly announced that we may be seeing “the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”
Father Nic is a research fellow of the outfit called OCTA Research. This group has figured prominently in media since the pandemic began in 2020. OCTA Research fellows have been giving updates on the pandemic and recommendations on what the government and the public must do in the face of the deadly virus’ onslaught.
Many of their views were controversial. Some of these views got the ire of some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). We are certain Father Nic’s prognosis would be no different.
After all, from the man-on-the-street’s viewpoint, the surge has just begun and it is unlikely that the “beginning of the end” could be in sight.
Juan dela Cruz has a point. From an average daily infection rate of less 500 just a few weeks ago, the number of people contracting the COVID-19 virus has skyrocketed to over 10,000 each day.
From a classification of “low risk” weeks ago, the country has now been placed at the “critical risk” category.
We were told we have not seen the end of the upward climb in the daily infection rate. The number seems to double every day in the past few days.
We heard a few experts in radio news interviews predict that the number could exceed the statistics registered during the last surge last year. Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire made the bold prediction that the daily infection rate could exceed the 26,000-plus mark at which the Delta variant peaked on Sept. 11 last year.
Some were quick to blame the Omicron virus for the latest surge.
Researchers and health officials have a different view, however. The alarming surge cannot be attributed to the latest variant. The reason for the sudden rise was what health officials called the “holiday frenzy.” Apparently, many of us had lowered our guard, want only disregarded basic health protocols and tricked ourselves into thinking that we had developed immune systems as impenetrable as steel.
Many of us were reckless.
We saw this coming.
Father Nic saw another thing coming: the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic.
His view is worth considering. After all, Father Nic is not just a man-of-the-cloth. He is a molecular biologist, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, has doctorate degree in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A member of the Order of Preachers – known here in our country as “Dominicans” – Father Nic is a visiting professor of biological sciences at the University of Santo Tomas. As someone who teaches future scientists and theologians, it is highly unlikely that Father Nic would shoot from the hip. Although he is a man of Faith, he is also a believer in the methods of science.
According to Father Nic, the Omicron variant could be a “natural vaccine.”
He said that those infected with this variant could develop natural immunity against all of the other varieties of the COVID-19 virus. He cited the ongoing developments in the UK and South Africa. He said that the Omicron variant has been spreading so fast in those countries that it could soon “run out of food to eat.”
He called the variant a “blessing.”
He also warned the public that we must still be cautious and that those who are not vaccinated will still find an infection by the Omicron variant deadly.
We hope the scientist-priest is right.
This pandemic has is already nearly two years old – a year longer than the Spanish Flu pandemic which hit the world early in the last century.
We hope that the situation would not only be a blessing but also the miracle we have all been praying for.
Just like many of the miracles we saw in the Bible, this one requires not just Faith but also the cooperation of Man. It requires that we all get vaccinated and practice basic health protocols. Let’s do our part and God will do the rest.
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