Editorial: There is no race

·2 min read

WELL, tell that to the loved ones left behind by 10,386 individuals who lost their lives in this pandemic: There is no race. Our local officials say there is no race on vaccine procurement. To slack off while we’re at a mortality rate of over two percent in the last few days and Cebu reclaiming its tiara again in transmissions?

The Australian think tank Lowy Institute released its evaluation of how countries performed in the health crisis. It’s Covid Performance Index tracked down six indicators: 1) confirmed cases; 2) confirmed deaths; 3) confirmed cases per million people; 4) confirmed deaths per million people; 5) confirmed cases as a proportion of tests; and 6) tests per thousand people.

Ninety-eight countries were evaluated in the 36 weeks following the hundredth confirmed Covid-19 case. Two Philippine neighbors made it to the top: Vietnam (2nd) and Taiwan (3rd). The United States plunged to the bottom at 94th. Our penchant for twisted logic will probably find solace in that because we ranked 79th. We can congratulate ourselves and say, yes, there is no race as far as vaccination is concerned.

Here is another one, with which we can also congratulate ourselves. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s forecast of when countries in Asia, or Southeast Asian economies in particular, will achieve widespread vaccination showed the Philippines a dismal underperformer. Singapore is expected to achieve widespread vaccination in the fourth quarter of 2021, followed by Vietnam (Q2 of 2022), Thailand (Q3 of 2022), Malaysia (Q4 of 2022), Indonesia (Q3 of 2023). The Philippines can look forward to the fourth quarter of 2023 to finally sit back in the comfort of widespread vaccination. Yes, because again this is not a race.

As of the moment, our national preoccupation is on whether it would be such a consoling matter to the countrymen to have the President jabbed on his rear in private. And it isn’t just the executive derriere that they want to hide. It turns out the vaccine prices too. So much dancing and kidding around, and the citizens are tickled pink by all these clown acts. Because, yes, there is no rush, and we’re so easily amused.

We can plunge headlong into animating our economy back to its old self, but as long as lives are peeling away in the process, the “new normal” remains but a pretention at its worst, an escapist strategy averting its eyes on the grim realities of a pandemic that still looms like Death brandishing its scythe behind us.

Work on the economy as much as you take the extra miles to get the vaccine on our shores. It isn’t a choice between the two. They go hand in hand, and while we open the economy, citizens must be armed with the appropriate shield from the virus.