By Gerry Salapuddin
After more than a year under the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) Protocol to counter the spread of COVID19 and the new Variants that surfaced in many countries, the situation is getting more stressful and inconvenient to everybody. Normal lives, works, businesses, studies, livelihoods, travels and tourism are disrupted and our freedom of movement curtailed, as health and safety measures, to prevent the contamination and spread of the virus. Some other medical experts identified it as bacteria, not virus, and must be treated as such.
When will this mysterious pandemic be fully and effectively eradicated? When the pandemic started, we are told that everthing will return to normal after a year. But the results is it did not turn out that way. Instead, we were told to live with it and embrace and adopt to the ‘New Normal,’ which in fact is not normal because when in the beginning of the pandemic we were just obligated to wear face mask, later we are made to wear face shield as additional requirements and our body temperature being scanned and our hands sprayed with alcohol or antiseptics whenever we enter a mall, airport, seaport or public and private offices or buildings.
THE LATEST HEALTH PROTOCOLS
The latest health protocol enforced by national and many local government units before we can travel to Zamboanga City as prescribed by the City Government is – we must undergo swab or saliva test with a NEGATIVE test results from the PNRC laboratory in Zamboanga. With this new health protocol prescribed by Zamboanga City Government to entrants to the City from BASULTA Islands and the Zamboanga Peninsula and from other localities of Mindanao, Luzon and Visayas, the more travelling is made difficult. BASULTA Island residents are the most affected. And since the effectivity of the negative swab or saliva test results is only for 5 days, every time we travel to Zamboanga, we must pay for the swab or saliva test which ranges from P6K, P5K, P3,500 in different private hospitals and P2,500 at Basilan General Hospital.
Buying face mask and face shield every now and then and undergoing swab or saliva test when Basilan residents go to Zamboanga to buy their needs, is too taxing to the pockets of the population with business on the downtrend during this pandemic. After the 5 day effectivity of the swab or saliva test, anyone travelling to Zamboanga must undergo and pay for another test with a negative result in order to travel again to Zamboanga. Anyone that gets a positive test results will have to go to a quarantine area of the LGUs or impose a home based self quarantine for 14 days or 1 month like I did to myself.
THE NEW COVID VARIANTS
In India and in other countries, their Health Ministry reported an upsurge of the COVID19 pandemic Variant, that infected many more and killing thousands in India. What is in the name? To us who are not from the medical sector, we are not familiar with the new variant, by whatever name. More than anything else, the questions raging in our minds are as follows:
- When and how will the COVID pandemic and its variants be completely eradicated?
- Are the vaccines from different pharmaceutical companies similar in efficacy or they have varying level of efficacy?
- What are the probable side effects after the first and second doses of vacvination?
- Why are the DOH and the health personel and hospitals not giving a clear narratives on who can and cannot get vaccinated?
- Why only 60% of the population must be vaccinated? What about the remaining 40%? What if there are among the 40% who are carrier of the virus or bacteria. Since there are 122 million Filipinos, does it mean our government must accomplish the vaccination of 60 to 70 million people? Is this figure attainable?
- If even after having been vaccinated twice the person is not still immune from being infected, then what is the soundness of vaccination?
- Why are several international medical experts, virologists and scientists are strongly expressing their objection and opposition to the declaration by the WHO of pandemic and the speedy manufacture of the vaccines without thorough clinical testings, which to them takes 10 to 15 years to manufacture a safe and efficacious vaccine for certain sickness or virus?
There are still many other questions raging in my mind, but I limit it to these 7 questions for now.
THE ANTI-COVID VACCINE
It is reported that the different vaccines manufacturef by different pharmaceutical companies have different level of efficacy and side effects.
Different provinces and cities in our country are getting different types or brands of vaccines. For instance, during a meeting in Iloilo City recently attended by no less than Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Mayor Jerry Treñas questioned why Iloilo was getting the Sinovax Vaccines while Metro Manila is getting the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines? He said: “Are we Ilonngos monkeys to deserve the less efficacious Sinovax Vaccine?”
THE NEW NORMAL
Is the ‘New Normal’ here to stay to replace the freer and convenient ‘Old Normal?’ Since the symptoms of COVID19 are common sicknesses that long ago existed, from a non-medical point of view with a critical analysis of the COVID pandemic and its variants, I guess it stays longer than we think, to may be up to 2025, according to my research. I hope I am wrong. I am afraid that we’ll never return back to the ‘Old Normal’ way of life because in today’s world even virus and bacteria are genetically engineered by crazy scientists and convert it into biowarfare weapons by powerful countries and private multinational companies for profits.
Adding to this new twist is the inevitable entry to the picture of technology and Artificial Intelligence or AI. They are intertwined and complementing with different fields and aspects of human and societal development. And we are all witnesses to the fast phase of technology and AI. We may not realize it, today we are largely dependent on technology and machines or gadgets with AI to make our life, work and business more convenient, faster and easier.