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In an interview with Karen Davila last Tuesday, I told her that the third lockdown imposed on the National Capital Region, our current pandemic epicenter, can be the last ECQ once we have vaccinated a majority of the population in Metro Manila. Once we have strengthened our wall of defense in NCR, the reimposition of a stricter quarantine may no longer be necessary. With that, the national government did not commit a mistake in shifting Metro Manila back to the strictest quarantine classification available. We are correct in heeding our medical experts’ advice to implement strict measures against this most dreaded Delta variant. A couple of days ago, more than 11,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded, affirming that the reimposition of ECQ is the best response we can choose to mitigate the transmission of the Delta variant.
In this regard, I am asking Secretary Charlie Galvez if the private sector can also bring to the country a supply of Pfizer-made vaccines through another tripartite agreement, and this time, it will be for protecting our children. This is because the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, wherein children are severely affected, is only one of the most alarming issues we have as regards the Delta variant. With this, we can see that the children are not immune from this deadly strain of COVID-19. Previously, their immune response could ward-off severe infections from the virus. However, looking at the news, children are being added to those who are being hospitalized due to the virus. This is why we are discussing if we can possibly procure Pfizer vaccines for our children, as this is the only brand approved for their age group. I can even imagine a worst-case scenario for them who are now one of the most vulnerable had we decided to turn against the implementation of another lockdown in Metro Manila. So, what are we going to do to efficiently maximize this lockdown? Strike while the iron is hot by vaccinating the pandemic hotspot.
We have to make sure that vaccination efforts are ramped up in order to ensure the victory against this Delta variant. Why? It is because whether we like it or not, Delta variant is lurking everywhere. If we simply become passive in our measures, then we are certainly heading for the maximization of our healthcare capacity at the soonest possible time. We certainly cannot afford to let that happen since it is a disaster in a snap. Hence, we just have to do our best to contain the Delta variant by boosting everyone’s immunity through intensified vaccination. A lot of people must be aware by now regarding the data on the rising number of COVID-19 cases from the DOH, as well as from the OCTA research group, showing an exponential increase of cases not present before. In fact, these numbers can go as high as 15,000 if left unchecked. Case in point, Thailand recently had its one-day surge in the number of cases, which is over 20,000 additional cases on a single-day average. In our country, particularly in the pandemic hotspot, NCR, we do not want to gasp for a shotgun response if we decide to act when it is too late already. We could never really know for now if the lockdown can be extended for quite some time. We just have to be thankful that the main clincher with the current lockdown, as compared to the previous two ECQs, is that we have our ‘silver bullet’ so far: our vaccine supply. We do not even need to have another lockdown after we have fully-vaccinated 80 to 90 percent of Metro Manila’s entire population. Hence, this might really be the end to all the lockdowns if this is already successful, but it will not be that easy until the majority of us are fully vaccinated.
During this third ECQ, we have to also work double-time to convince the unvaccinated individuals. Incentivizing them can be proven to actually work. For instance, they can be granted more mobility, as well as other forms of motivation, especially during this ECQ, when more restrictions are in place for everyone. Since we have yet to grasp if the current lockdown will be extended, an ease of access for the vaccinated individuals to various establishments, such as restaurants, parlors, and other health and wellness facilities can be considered as a privilege. Nothing really beats the idea of making people do something without imposing a harsh penalty if they do otherwise. These measures I have mentioned are already being done all over the world, and irrespective of the legality of the measures, it might be the perfect time to implement them locally.
We have to make use of this lockdown, and the only solution in my mind is to build a strong wall of defense by vaccinating as many people as we can during this ECQ because no one really likes a stricter quarantine. If this lockdown will be prolonged since our healthcare capacity is unmanageable and we cannot do anything, it will destroy the momentum of businesses as they are only starting to recover as of the moment. If we cannot convince people to have themselves vaccinated, then we must reconsider limiting their mobility instead. Comprising 80 percent of our hospital capacity are unvaccinated individuals. That is a harsh truth. This is also the reason why a heavy-handed approach for those who have no other legitimate reasons not to take the vaccines can be a good option.
Meanwhile, long-term benefits of the vaccination rollouts through a local manufacturing laboratory for the production of our own vaccines, in partnership with leading pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer, can be a good start. This is a good way to sustain the country’s vaccination program without being dependent on the schedule of supply arrival.
Let us not waste our time to contribute in beating the Delta variant during this ECQ by having ourselves inoculated. Be one with us in making this third ECQ as the last lockdown. Stay at home, but also take your vaccine shot for us to save Metro Manila, our pandemic hotspot.