After a dark summer when Cebu City oftentimes logged new cases in the hundreds every day, the Covid-19 situation eased up significantly during the last three months. The second week of November rudely jolted us, however, to the reality that what we enjoy is a temporary reprieve, that until such time that a vaccine is available, we remain vulnerable to the coronavirus.
It’s not just us, if that offers any consolation. The whole world continues to suffer from the plague. The Johns Hopkins Covid-19 dashboard reported 56,178,674 cases yesterday from 191 countries and regions all over the world. A total of 1,348,348 people already died.
The Philippines is number 26 in the same list with 412,097 cases. Our number of deaths is, however, lower than many countries that had lesser Covid-19 incidence. Among the smaller and less progressive Asian countries, we rank third behind Indonesia (478,720) and Bangladesh (438,795).
These numbers are nothing compared to that of the United States which has 11,525,149 cases with 250,483 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The US has been averaging over 150,000 cases daily since after their elections. The number of deaths has also been piling up at 1,900 daily, according to the New York Times.
The lack of a national policy on how to control the spread of the virus is blamed for the runaway growth. States were left to decide what measures to implement and many of them came out with wearing of masks and physical distancing mandates only lately.
In that regard, we are luckier than the Americans. Critics blame our government for acting late but at least when it did, the measures were strict, even draconian in the eyes of many. The quarantine is effective even if we still average about 2,000 new cases daily. If we want proof of how the quarantine has kept Covid-19 at bay, we don’t have to look far. Our experience is a model, according to the anti-Covid campaign czar in the Visayas, Roy Cimatu.
Which is why people are wrong in criticizing Mayor Edgar Labella for immediately ordering strict border controls when the coronavirus showed signs of acting up. Labella showed that he was a decisive leader in doing that, according to a friend who is not exactly a Labella fan.
These are interim measures, of course. Our safety from the dreaded disease still lies in the vaccine. And without meaning to ride on the misfortune of any people, what is happening to the US will ultimately benefit us. Their out-of-control pandemic is speeding the testing of vaccines, the NYTimes observed.
Two companies have reported successful vaccine tests. Moderna and Pfizer said late stage trials show that their vaccines are 95 percent effective. It is doubtful though that both can roll out their vaccines within this year. And even if they do, it will take perhaps another six months before they are made available to us.
Maybe, we can access other sources. Johnson & Johnson has included the Philippines in the list of countries where they will pick 30,000 who will be enrolled in their trial. And don’t forget Sputnik from Russia and the one that China has developed.
Until then, let’s continue to obey the government’s strict, at times, draconian measures to keep us relatively safer from Covid-19.