The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that those fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask or distance themselves from others.
Well, that’s for the American public. Other developed countries that have vaccinated in full their citizens against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) may be issuing similar directives five months after they started their inoculation programs last December.
No such directive is expected to come anytime soon from our own Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) that is leading the fight against Covid-19. Our vaccination campaign officially started only last May when the first delivery of vaccines for A1 or medical frontliners arrived. Then, additional vaccines came in trickles and senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions or comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension came next starting in mid-April.
It is only in May when the vaccination was expanded to include those in essential industries such as government and private sector employees.
Another reason why the wearing of mask protocol is not likely to be lifted soon is the kind of vaccine that was injected into Filipinos. Most of those vaccinated in the Philippines received Sinovac whose efficacy was placed at just above 50 percent, the lowest among the first-generation vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Although experts said Sinovac protected against serious Covid-19 that requires intensive care in the hospital and prevented death, its reported efficacy is lower than those of the other vaccines pegged at 90 percent and above.
The CDC in the US issued the new ruling after the government has fully vaccinated 116 million American adults or 45.1 percent of the adult population. Free vaccination is still being offered in restaurants, malls, and sports arenas to attain targets.
The new CDC ruling said those fully vaccinated do not have to wear a mask or stay six feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors. But they still have to wear a mask in healthcare settings or when a business requires it and also inside airplanes, buses, trains, and other public transportation. That would mean business and travel may be able to return to pre-pandemic levels but still with some safety protocols.
In the Philippines, 2,025,038 individuals received the first dose of the vaccine and 514,655 were fully vaccinated, as of May 11, 2021. That is a total of 2,539,693 Filipinos who have received at least one dose out of a population of 110 million. The target to attain community immunity is to have 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
Other developing countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh have bigger percentages of their populations already vaccinated. We started late and the vaccines we got were effective, yes, but not as much as what the others received. For us, it’s still mask on.