A COVID-19 cure by September?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - August 13, 2020 - 12:00am

I read this report-cum-announcement by the management of Escario Central on their Facebook page that they are still open for business, despite the fact that certain clients were found to be positive for COVID-19. St. Marks Hotel, a sister company, also remains open since it has been accepting guest government frontliners who are with the Department of Health (DOH) and those who are in need of isolation.

Escario Central is owned by my high school classmate Enrique “Quito” Farrarons. I’m merely repeating what they have published on their Facebook page since a newspaper company (not The FREEMAN) announced that they have been shut down. Actually, the DOH doesn’t shut down hotels if there are clients who are positive for COVID-19. They just sanitize their rooms. Their hotel is registered with the DOH as one of the hotels that they could use.

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Since Cebu City was returned to a general community quarantine (GCQ) last August 1 , things seemed to be working in order. I mean the latest report from Cebu City was that we have been able to continue our streak of recording fewer coronavirus infections with only 11 new cases and no new deaths logged as of last Monday, August 10. Call it remarkable but true!

This report was based on a DOH-7 update published on its official Facebook page. Accordingly, the city had a total of 9,222 confirmed cases with 1,724 active cases and the total deaths remained at 603 in the last five months and zero deaths as of Monday. So can we say that we hardheaded Cebuanos have finally found a way to reduce the effects of COVID-19? Let’s hope that we can keep it as low as we have this week.

Meanwhile, we know that Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella prefers that the city would remain under GCQ after August 15. As the mayor pointed out, “Of course, we will be happy if there’s going to be a downgrading to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), but if you ask me, I would rather that we maintain the general (community) quarantine status as it is easier to control the movement of people under GCQ.”

For as long as things really go down, yes, let’s stay in GCQ because, by September, vaccines to fight the coronavirus would hopefully become available. Apparently, we learned that when we were brought down to GCQ, Cebu City disregarded the use of the quarantine passes, over which Mayor Labella blamed  the surge of infections. So this time around, he admitted that he has learned his lessons and despite our GCQ status, the city still ordered the use of quarantine passes for everyone. Meanwhile, Malacañang is expected to announce the new quarantine classifications of local government units (LGUs) for the remainder of August on August 15, this Friday.

We can only hope that other LGUs would also be downgraded so they can finally focus more on the resumption of their respective economies. However, they have to secure themselves on the new arrivals of their residents, especially those overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may have been infected in their respective host countries. This is why they still have to undergo the 14-day quarantine process.

Now with regard to the, hopefully, end of the COVID-19, we know that more than a hundred pharmaceutical companies are in a tight race as to who would be the first to come up with a vaccine that would prevent people from being infected with the coronavirus. It seems that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last Tuesday that Russia has developed the first vaccine against the coronavirus. Really, we can only hope and pray that this is true and not a Russian propaganda.

Russia’s pioneer vaccine candidate, developed by Gamaleya Institute, is listed as being in Phase 1, according to the latest draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccines published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 28. Phase 1 studies, according to the WHO, are “small-scale studies of which the primary focus is the determination of clinical tolerance and safety.” Anyway, we can only hope that the Russian Gamaleya Institute anti-COVID-19 vaccines do really work.

However, we know there are others doing the same thing like Johnsons & Johnsons, Pfizer, Moderna, a US company also now on its Phase 3 trials, and Astra-Zeneca PLC of Oxford University, which is also on Phase 3. These vaccines may be available, hopefully, by September, and that’s already next month.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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