The Russian vaccine
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - August 14, 2020 - 12:00am

The number of new COVID-19 cases was 4,444 last Wednesday. The total number in the country now stands at 143,749. Metro Manila has been under MECQ for more than a week now. Can the DOH provide data to see if being placed under MECQ helped? As for DND Sec. Lorenzana, he said the NCR is ready to be placed back under GCQ since he believes the lockdowns cannot continue. A legislator wants to extend the MECQ for another two weeks believing the current two weeks is not enough to make a dent in the number of cases. Lorenzana rejects the idea warning the economy will collapse. People would die more of starvation than COVID-19, he adds.

There is no argument that the economy is down not only in NCR but throughout the country. According to the Palace, the IATF will recommend what is best to do based on the recent daily number of cases. President Duterte will announce new quarantine classifications on August 17. Whatever the recommendation and the announcement of the president, we can do nothing but follow. Let's just hope that the remainder of the week will see a considerable drop in the number of cases.

News of Russia ready to roll out a vaccine against COVID-19 is all over the news. What is also in the news is the eagerness of the country through this administration to accept it with President Duterte himself volunteering to be the first to be injected, supposed proof of his love for the country. He is confident the vaccine created by a Russian company will work and save lives. But according to Jose Santiago, president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the country must be very careful in receiving the said vaccine because so much is not known about the coronavirus as well as the data from the company. The company said they conducted human trials on 2,000 people in the last two months. Is that enough? The WHO said a later phase of clinical trials on a new vaccine should involve tens of thousands.

I would be very cautious with a new vaccine developed this early. Creating a vaccine against a virus is not that easy, taking years to develop and test. Viruses may have different strains and characteristics. Much is not yet known about COVID-19. The question of a lifetime immunity still hangs in the air. Is this administration willingly offering the country as a testing ground for the vaccine? I would question human trials in just two months. Adverse effects may take a while to appear. And with only 2,000 people? Have they developed immunity? Russia has released very little data on the vaccine. On the other hand, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire assured the public that regulations would still be followed.

“The President knows this,” she said. “We can assure the public that we are going to study this very critically; we will scrutinize this properly and put it through our regulatory procedures so that we could be certain of it." We can only hope so, considering the highest official of the land already very willing to be the first to accept.

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