EDITORIAL - How long are we willing to wait?

(The Freeman) - July 14, 2020 - 12:00am

Last May the president declared that he isn’t keen on letting face-to-face classes resume unless there is a vaccine for COVID-19.

We agreed with this decision. Some of us painfully, considering the costs such a move would entail. However, in light of recent events, we have to ask the president and also the government in general how long we should wait. 

The recent event we refer to is the announcement by a top French epidemiologist, also a member of the team of scientists advising the French government on the crisis, that there are little chances of producing a 100% cure for COVID-19 even by 2021.

"A vaccine is several years in development… Of course, there is an unprecedented effort to develop a vaccine, but I would be very surprised if we had that was effective in 2021," epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet is quoted by the French BFMTV as saying.

Duterte has always felt sure that a cure was on the horizon, even mentioning that it will be China that will develop it first. However, Fontanet’s announcement isn’t the first of its kind. It is just the latest in a string of statements from experts from all over the world that a vaccine will not come in the near future.

Even if it did, there will still be some time between its clinical trials and before it becomes mass produced and commercially available, especially in a third-world country like ours.

Is the government willing to put off face-to-face classes until then?

The Department of Education has already set the start of school year 2020 on August 24. This goes with the option of online instruction. However, we know for a fact that many students and pupils, especially in the poorer areas of the country, will not be able to avail of the online classes due to lack of network coverage or lack of gadgets to facilitate this.

In short, many of them have no option but face-to-face instruction.

We realize that there is no easy answer to this question, but it has to be asked. How long is the government willing to wait to allow face-to-face classes again?

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