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Sitting ducks in a pandemic

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - March 18, 2021 - 12:00am

The way this pandemic is headed for the Philippines, with case numbers spiking by the hundreds in recent days and Filipinos desperately needing to get back to work, it feels very much like being a sitting duck left with little or no options but to wait for the slaughter.

Having been under lockdown for the longest time without the necessary strategy in place to effectively deal with the emergence of new infections, especially as the government allowed increased mobility for people to get back to work, panic is returning at the thought of going back to the strictest shelter-in-place order.

OCTA Research, noting the reproduction of cases (or R-naught) now at 2.03, warned that daily cases could go up to 10,000 or 11,000 by month-end – quite a chilling thought given the fact that our highest daily case has never breached 7,000 over the last 12 months.

The government had weakly blamed the recent surge to a fatigue among people in observing social distancing, hand sanitizing, and the wearing of facemasks and shields, but the extra long time that cases per day had been left at about 1,000 for months speaks more of its ineptness.

Little or no attempt had been put in place to bring down infections to single digits, much more to zero. Enforcement of disinfection in public vehicles and places have been sloppy, children and the youth were allowed to roam the streets without masks, and safe distancing inside jeeps and buses replaced by plastic sheets.

Vaccines and vaccinations

The rollout of vaccines in a growing number of countries may have contributed also to a euphoric, but misplaced feeling that the pandemic’s end had come. Not so, because the virus is very much alive and kicking, even mutating faster than we can have jabs on people.

Of the different vaccines approved for use, reported efficacies vary widely, blind-siding the desperate in us to choose a brand that offers the best potency with the least amount of immediate side effects. Others have opted to sit out vaccination until more data is available.

This is understandable, given the recent reports of blood clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Though these adverse effects are rare compared to the number of people who have received the vaccine, several European countries have withdrawn or stopped its use on pretext that this is being done out of “an abundance of caution.”

Even with investigations underway to determine the exact cause of blood clotting cases, vaccinations in rich countries are gathering speed as vaccine manufacturers clear supply kinks and ramp up daily production.

For the Philippines, however, getting all 1.4 million frontline health workers fully inoculated will happen only in May, at the latest, when the full supply of vaccines from China’s Sinovac and the global COVAX vaccine sharing scheme arrives.

The vaccination campaign for the general public will likely start only in the second half of the year, if and when the 30 million Novavax doses ordered from India are delivered. That is, after those in the priority groups, led by senior citizens, are given their shots. Herd immunity, where 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, is optimistically seen by end 2022.

CDC PH’s prophylactic suggestions

Even then, between today and when more vaccines are made available, infection rates could exponentially rise to unmanageable crisis proportions. This has roused the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) to initiate its own campaign.

The general recommendation by CDC PH’s doctors is to formulate a national protocol for the prophylaxis and early treatment of COVID-19 to reduce hospitalizations and save lives. There is a preventive health regimen, they claim, that can be administered to strengthen people’s immunity against the virus before the vaccines arrive, and perhaps even without a vaccine.

These doctors are not even waiting for the result of meetings initiated with government officials, including governors and mayors at the local levels. If you’ve receive some form of health regiment advice on how to strengthen your immunity against COVID-19, this is part of the info drive.

As doctors are wont to be, differences of opinion exist, especially in the administration of the more complex prophylactic drugs like the antibiotic azithromycin, the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, and the anti-parasitic ivermectin.

They, however, unanimously agree on the effectiveness of more “natural” preventive measures that include good nutrition (less fried and junk food, more fruits and vegetables), vitamins, the right amount of daily sleep, exercise, less stress, cleanliness, and the continued practice of physical distancing when with other people.

Easy read

One of the easy reads I’ve come across lately in searching for ways to understand this pandemic is a booklet by Dr. Allan Landrito. Here, the good doctor introduces briefly how the Philippines responded to the pandemic declaration until November, just before his publication was published.

The rest of the literature deals with what the cover title says: “Freedom from COVID-19 Now! Prevention and Cure at Hand.” If you can get a copy, please do. You may not believe in his recommendation to taken ivermectin, which incidentally has not received any unfavorable sanction unlike hydroxychloroquine in the World Health Organization’s solidarity trials, but the other advices given sound sane enough.

Dr. Landrito introduces himself as having 29 years of clinical practice, with the last 14 years more focused on community and integrative medicine. He professes to have practiced nutrition, orthomolecular and herbal medicines as well as alternative therapies like chelation and DMSO.

“No one has to die from COVID-19,” he says.

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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