Wenceslao: Vaccines

Bong O. Wenceslao
·3 min read

United States President-elect Joe Biden and his vice, Kamala Harris, have already laid down a hopefully more effective plan to combat the spread of the coronavirus in that country.

Under President Donald Trump, who will relinquish the post in January yet, the government has been in denial mode. Thus, the US posted a world record in the number of people who died from Covid-19. And because Trump will still be president until January, an expert predicted that more than a hundred thousand people will die from Covid-19 before the Biden-Harris plan could be put in place.

To be fair, the Trump administration should be credited for it’s so-called Operation Warp Speed, which is designed to speed up the discovery of an effective vaccine against the coronavirus and to speed up its distribution to the populace. Which should remind our very own administration of President Rodrigo Duterte that buying the vaccine is only one part of the problem. The other is the setting up of an effective infrastructure and system for its distribution.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, recently noted that a vaccine “has to be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.” Meaning that refrigeration is important. And he noted that the US doesn’t have refrigeration operations as massive as the one required by the need. Do we have enough refrigeration facilities in the Philippines?

I am not pretending to be knowledgeable on the state of vaccine distribution in our country. What I am just questioning is our state of readiness once those vaccines are already available. This is aside from the problem of procurement considering that rich countries would surely be given preference over the poor ones like us. That is a reality in a capitalist setting where profit is the motive.

This should also be a warning for local government units (LGUs) in the country. Once a vaccine is procured by the Duterte administration, they should be in an advanced state of readiness. Leaders should not, sort of, wait for manna to fall from heaven. Cebuanos have a word for this: “pinaspasay.”

While allies of the administration have an advantage, it pays to be readier than the others. Mayor Edgardo Labella, for example, should get advice from medical experts on the infrastructure needed for vaccine distribution. He should come up with costing and know where equipment could be procured at “warp speed.” He should put the Cebu City Council on alert because funding will surely be important.

The next important phase in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is vaccination. LGU executives should be ready for that. While we feel that we in Cebu City should be given a priority in that phase given our city’s size and its contribution to the economy, feeling is not much of a consideration here. Action is. If we are ready to receive the vaccines, I doubt if our effort to get them first would be denied.