There is this upbeat feeling among many following reports the Philippines, still reeling from the deadly pandemic, may before long have access to the COVID vaccine of the United States.
Two firms – biotech Moderna as well as pharmaceutical Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech – have separately announced their drugs against the COVID-19 disease had notched 95 and 90 percent effectiveness respectively.
It is heartening to note that Presidential spokesman Harry Roque chased the announcements that the Philippines, struggling from the infections and the anxiety of hundreds of thousands, had “firm commitments from the United States… that we will have access to COVID vaccines that may be developed in the United States.”
Both US vaccine frontrunners are based on new technology that uses synthetic versions of molecules called “messenger RNA” to hack into human cells, and effectively turn them into vaccine-making factories.
“The idea that we have a 94.5 percent effective vaccine is stunningly impressive,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, which co-developed the vaccine.
“It is really a spectacular result that I don’t think anybody had anticipated would be this good.”
Moderna plans to submit applications for emergency approval around the world within weeks, and says it expects to have approximately 20 million doses ready to ship in the US by the end of 2020.
The company, which has received $2 billion from the US government under “Operation Warp Speed,” added it is on track to manufacture between 500 million to a billion doses globally in 2021.
Global infections from COVID-19 have soared past 54 million with more than 1.3 million deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.
Moncef Slaoui, who leads “Operation Warp Speed,” said he hoped the two vaccines would be approved “somewhere towards in the first half of December,” with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the next on the horizon early next year.
According to Roque, China has also promised to supply its future COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines, while the United Kingdom agreed with the World Health Organization that it would give its potential vaccine to poor countries.
Certainly, the road to getting the physical shape of the vaccines suggests a lengthy span and the processing must be validated every step of the trials by experts and other health authorities.
Given that the Christmas season is just off the first block, that should not mean that we now have to ignore and forget the health protocols the authorities have and are implementing.
We know that Christmas is filled with a rich coat of religious and cultural tradition embedded in the consciousness of majority of the country’s population.
But that should not, under whatever circumstances during the Yuletide, be any reason to discard the health protocols – for our safety and the safety as well of the others – that we may effectively check the spread of the infections and the deaths that have all become a daily frightening bulletin board, the thousands of recoveries despite.
We should not disregard the health protocols authorities worldwide have imposed.
For all workers who are going out of their homes, regardless of specific exposure risks, and even those who sometimes go out for essential activities, reminders below remain timely and an excellent practice to:
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Practice good respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home if sick.
Recognize personal risk factors. Authorities say certain people, including older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.
Some have projected a December legend when the vaccines may be available to the general population, others by the second quarter of next year.
What we have been told by medical experts is that it may take some time before the vaccines may be available to the general public, with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto saying up to P150 billion should be earmarked for COVID-19 vaccines in the unprogrammed funds under the P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021.
Experts have said 60 percent of the 110 million population should be vaccinated to generate “herd immunity. (To be continued)