THERE seems to be a slowdown in the worldwide vaccination campaign against COVID-19 after the initial rush in the United States and certain other countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) organized COVAX to provide initial vaccine doses to counties with little or no hope of getting them from the manufacturing countries which are now delivering orders made early last year, even while the vaccines were being tested.
This has been an unusual and difficult market. The vaccines we are buying have not completed the five years testing period. So all of them have been granted only Emergency Use Authorizations. But the emerging scenario is such and the need for action is so urgent that the whole world is now using these emergency meds.
But even these not fully tested vaccines are in short supply. The US was able to corner hugs amounts of the US-made Pfizer and Modernas Britain and Europe were able to stockpile on the UK’s AstraZeneca.
Fortunately for us, the WHO was able to organize an aid group called COVAX that was able to deliver some vaccine doses to the poorer countries of the world, reaching the Philippines. But the available supply is way below the world’s needs. We were also able to get initial doses of vaccines made by China and Russia. But these too are running out. And we have hardly touched the surface if we are to vaccinate some 70 percent of our 110-million population to achieve so-called “herd immunity.”
There simply are not enough vaccine doses for the world at this time. We in the Philippines will have to rely on what we do best – taking care of the sick in hospitals. We are doing this all over the world today.
We also have our health protocols which we have tested over the past months. We just have to maintain these protocols and ensure they are followed in even the remote parts of the country – wear face masks in public, better if with face shields for an additional layer of protection. Keep your distance from the next person. His very breath may carry the COVID virus.
Even if, in the future, we will get enough vaccines for our people, we must maintain these safety protocols, for the COVID-19 has been able to insinuate itself in the most unlikely places. Just when one thinks he’s safe, a virus may be traveling toward him across the room.
It must also not be forgotten the COVID-19 is a new disease. There is yet no fully tested vaccine for it. All these vaccines we are now using are only under Emergency Use Authorization. But they are the best we have at this time. Ultimately, each person will have to fend for himself at this time, keep the virus away with face masks, face shield, proper distancing, and proper washing.