Editorial: Pointless distinction

·3 min read

WE ARE not exactly sure why in response to questions on the recent record of Cebu Province topping other provinces on the number of Covid-induced deaths from Aug. 9 to 22, 2021, Department of Health (DOH) 7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche emphasized on the difference between “Covid death” and “Covid-related death.”

“Pag-Covid deaths, ibig sabihin you died dahil kay Covid, but when we say Covid-related death, ikaw ay na-admit dahil ikaw ay may comorbidity at ikaw ay nahawaan ni Covid. And iyong kamatayan ay hindi kay Covid lang, kung hindi ikaw ay may ibang sakit (If it’s Covid death, it means you died because of Covid, but when we say Covid-related death, you were admitted because you had a comorbidity and you were infected with Covid. Your death wasn’t because solely because of Covid, but also because you were sick),” Loreche explained.

The way the good doctor phrased her statement, addressing the dead, we thought we were in for the surreal. Kidding aside, we see that there isn’t much useful distinction there; we have, since the early part of this pandemic, established already that individuals with comorbidity are prone to suffer severe effects from the coronavirus.

There have been much mindless buying into official narratives; citizens hardly ask discerning questions on operational nomenclature.

We don’t exactly understand what the good doctor means by “Covid death,” or “you died dahil kay Covid.” For one, what we now know as Covid-19 is but a set of symptoms—flu, loss of sense of taste and smell, cough, loose bowel movement, fatigue etc.—depending on which part of the human anatomy this Morningstar-looking virus had bludgeoned to kingdom come. The severity of the hit could go all the way to atrophy the vital organs—lungs, heart, liver, kidney etc. If a patient has pre-existing health conditions—particularly cardiac problems, hypertension, diabetes, system malfunctions all that alter one’s immune response—you can imagine an onslaught that easily topples a weak defense. In Covid time, people with comorbidity don’t just fizzle out from life; it’s the coronavirus that did them in.

The 123 that died from Aug. 9 to 22, 2021, in the Province died of Covid-19, period. Covid-19 claims even the most physically sound among us while it spares some who are perceptively weak, and it’s exactly that seeming randomness that makes Loreche’s distinction pointless. Again, those deaths were caused by Covid, period.

The Province, according to lawyer Frank Eduard Dinsay in his letter to SunStar Cebu, had shifted its focus “to monitoring outcomes, like how many patients require hospitalization or intensive care and reporting deaths, in the same way seasonal flu outbreaks are monitored.”

The DOH 7 bulletin had reported that Cebu Province’s critical care utilization rate is at 74.4 percent while intensive care unit beds are at 90 percent—it’s 72 percent in level 1 hospitals, and 100 percent in level 2s. If that is what Dinsay means by shifting focus, he has the DOH figures down pat.

What do we hope to achieve by calling a square a square? That is how solutions are made—with both eyes open. Not by the inexact discipline of word play as Loreche seems to lead us to, but by the sheer appreciation of numbers and reality.

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