Wenceslao: Just vaccinate

Bong O. Wenceslao
·3 min read

HEADS of local government in Cebu are forging a united front against the recommendation to place Cebu back under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status after the recent spike in the number of reported Covid-19 cases in the island. Cebu is under the less stringent moderate general community quarantine (MGCQ) status and is on the process of rebuilding an economy devastated by the previous lockdowns that are the needed components of an ECQ setup.

The argument about the negative effects of a lockdown was what motivated former US President Donald Trump to bite the bullet, sort of, and suffer the ignominy of topping the list of countries with the most number of Covid-19 deaths. The Trump thinking is somewhat similar to what Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella are presenting. We can make do without the lockdown as long as the number of Covid-19 cases won’t overwhelm our health care system. The US, after all, is a highly industrialized country with vast resources.

The Trump balancing act highly favors the economy over the need to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It was only after the vaccines were rolled out that the graph on the number of people infected with the virus flattened and subsequently dipped. That should provide us with a way out of the mess created by the virus worldwide. It’s just that we have been slow in complying with the requirements needed to purchase the virus. The line of countries buying the vaccines is long and we seem to be at the tailend. As opposition senator Franklin Drilon noted, the Duterte administration seems to have dropped the ball on this one.

Compounding the problem is that the vaccines by the Chinese firm favored by the government, Sinovac, have not been delivered to the country amid questions on the result of the clinical trials it conducted (Column was written before vaccine arrived on March 2, 2021—OpEd). This will surely add to the number of reasons why people are wary about being vaccinated. Especially because the government seems bent on ramming Sinovac vaccines down our throat with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque saying that if you do not want it, then do not have yourself vaccinated.

It thus seems to me like, listening to Roque, arguments other than the medical and the scientific have intruded into the government’s decision-making process. He talked about “utang na loob” as one of the reasons why the Duterte administration favors Sinovac vaccines over those manufactured by reputable western firms like Pfizer. The other non-scientific reason is that rich countries have already bought a big percentage of the vaccines western firms manufactured. That I should say is also partly the result of us being at the tailend of the line.

Still, I just hope the government will finally be able to iron out the problems in the program and finally roll out those vaccines. That should end the quibbling over the spike in COVID-19 infections and also end the spike in the blame game now being played by politicians eager to run in the next elections. Note that other countries in Asia like Indonesia have long started vaccinating their peoples.