THERE is no such thing as a COVID-19 Lakandula variant. I made it up to make myself aware all the time that indeed, the dreaded virus we had been fighting since last year can be anywhere, including the new variants.
I invented it to remind myself of the unreasonable and opposing views by experts and authorities about the new COVID-19 variants, the vaccines, and rules that they make us follow when entering and exiting borders.
Not so long ago, they ordered a couple of sweethearts to install a barrier between them when riding a motorcycle to prevent the transmission of the virus from him to her and vice versa and to bring that barrier to bed.
Then the question about how one person who was initially tested negative was found to be positive with the UK variant more than a week later after a re-test was never answered.
There was even the suspicion that the new variants found in our places were COVID-19 that mutated here at the time when the viruses in Europe and the Americas were also modifying their forms. Therefore, the names UK, South Africa, and Brazil variants.
This, as researchers from the University of the Philippines who were on their toes tracking the pandemic, said the continued increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila might be due to the spread of the UK and South African variants.
Remember that in January, the COVID-19 UK variant was detected in 17 patients, including the case of the 29-year-old male in Quezon City who was the first to be identified as having the UK variant.
Of the 17, at least 12 were found in Bontoc, Mountain Province; one in La Trinidad, Benguet; and one patient each for the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, and Iloilo.
Then last week, the DOH said the more transmissible South African COVID-19 variant was detected in four local cases in Pasay City and two returning Filipino migrant workers from the Middle East.
The OCTA Research group warned that what pushed the increase is the UK or the South African variant and that cases could reach 665,000 and 14,000 deaths if it is unable to curb the spread of the disease.
However, the UP Manila-National Institute of Health reported that the original coronavirus was still infectious as the new COVID variants account for only two percent of the COVID-19 infections in the country. While the two variants were linked to more transmissibility, there is no proof that they can cause more severe forms of the disease.
With contradicting views as the government’s vaccination program gets underway, it is still very essential for the public to strictly observe minimum health standards such wearing of face mask and face shield, physical distancing and washing of hands.
I imagine that health protocols will be staying with us for the longest time even while the government has started rolling out all 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses which arrived from Beijing on the last day of February.
On the first day of vaccination last Tuesday, at least 2,793 Filipino arms were already inoculated in 11 hospitals where the vaccines were distributed.
For Cordillera, Sinovac will be deployed tomorrow (March 7) to Baguio Gen. Hospital with 1,871 doses, Luis Hora General Hospital – 629, Kalinga Provincial Hospital – 326, Bontoc Gen. Hospital – 222, and Benguet Gen. Hospital – 560.
With that, the government pressed the public to grab the opportunity of receiving a vaccine shot to protect one from getting COVID-19 that could lead to other illnesses or even death.
So that presidential spox Harry Roque always pleaded to people to get vaccinated because of a recent survey that many Filipinos were not inclined to get a COVID-19 vaccine due to safety concerns.
That includes me and many others although we have different reasons why we are not volunteering to get vaccinated this early. For most, they want to wait for other vaccine brands. Their choice, of course, and President Duterte agrees.
A coalition of health groups and frontliners however, admonished the public not to prejudge China’s Sinovac which they said may affect the country’s fight against the virus if the vaccines are not used.
The other reasons why vaccines are not widely accepted are our sad experience with Dengvaxia, product side-effects, in addition to a natural reaction to new medical products.
But I remember what doctors used to tell children that most if not all who get vaccinated experience side effects from vaccines such as nausea and vomiting, fever, and for older people – worsening of their underlying conditions.
Although, a study showed that the probability of people feeling unease and mild chills is only one out of 10,000. The same is true with other vaccines such as Moderna and AstraZeneca.
Last month, Norwegian Medicines Agency conveyed the safety of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on elderly people with serious underlying medical conditions, after 29 of them died within days of getting vaccinated.
Because of these reports of side effects and even deaths that have no explanations yet, in addition to the new variants, the public cannot just disregard the need for the vaccines, whatever brand they are.
According to science and the experts, aside from observing minimum health protocols, getting vaccinated is another way of beating COVID-19. Not being able to implement vaccination will result in serious consequences particularly to the unprotected or vulnerable sector.