Understanding the virus and the vaccines better

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas - The Freeman

We know that the coronavirus is still here and actively deadly. We also know that there are, at present, anti-coronavirus vaccines reported.

We all need to remind ourselves, though, that even if vaccines are now available, what is certain is that the virus will still be in our midst. It takes only one positive case to spread.

Sadly, we also know that a new virus variant that spreads faster and is just as dangerous is already in the Philippines.

Hence, until then, we all need to remain vigilant, follow health protocols, stay home, stay safe to ensure all others are safe!

While vaccines are available, there are still so many questions unanswered whether the vaccines are safe and effective in containing the virus and its variant not only for individuals but for the whole world.

The world is expecting vaccines to demonstrate high levels of efficacy that can protect life immediately, the most urgent priority, and in the long run, achieve herd immunity which means that a large portion of the population is immune that a virus can no longer circulate and is eliminated.

However, no final data about the efficacy of any vaccine has yet been shared. People and governments need to check what facts are available about different types of vaccines before making any decisions which ones to buy and use.

Private or government decision will need to be informed by reliable data and true science, not the kind released by media or non-specialists. Transparency and full disclosure about vaccines should be required so that safe and effective vaccines will truly benefit the world and protect all.

Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, a highly-respected infectious disease expert, in a post circulating in Facebook, advised that “we need to step back and take a deep breath from all this noise (where) vaccine confidence is taking a beating from non-scientific and nonpeer-reviewed data circulating around.”

He wrote: “science by press-release is the antithesis of true science. True science is carefully looking at the data, analyzing and reanalyzing what's going on, and deciding on how best to move forward. We need to act on data with cold objectivity, not speculate on motives or political intentions.”

Vaccine efficacy, Saldana explains, “are measured in many ways, whether it can prevent any infection or disease (mild or severe). Vaccines that prevent infection are transmission-blocking while vaccines that prevent severe disease are disease-modifying. Most COVID-19 vaccine trials measure BOTH outcomes.”

He advises that “REAL EXPERTS review the data for the FDA before considering use. He suggests that any vaccine that can prevent deaths is more than welcome and advises that we “stay safe and stick to the science and ignore the noise.”

However, Filipino people can rightfully continue to question why the Duterte administration insists on buying a Chinese vaccine with a lower efficacy yet more expensive compared to other brands. Shouldn’t government ensure the safety of both people and public funds?

Also, why are local governments now scrambling to procure vaccines of their choice with local funds? Shouldn’t national government fund everything? What happened to the huge anti-COVID emergency funds allocated by Congress?

All Filipinos deserve free anti-COVID vaccines from this government. If LGUs and private companies will be left to buy and provide vaccines for their own people, who will protect those in LGUs and companies that have no budget for vaccines? One for all-all for one should be our nation’s campaign against COVID. Walang iwanan.

Meanwhile, shouldn’t we also remain alert/vigilant and pray that the present vaccine brouhaha isn’t an orchestrated cover-up for an upcoming Chacha blitzkrieg?


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