By Tracy Cabrera
File photo of DiabetEASE publisher Dr. Rafael Castillo (second from left) with (L-R) Friendly Alliances and Media Expressions (FAME) operations manager Hudson Pelayo, Creative Bakers Company president Walter Co, Glupa founder Aiza Diuco and FAME business unit head Charlotte Punzalan.
MANILA — A general practitioner from the Doctors’ Clinic of the Lung Center of the Philippines is giving advice on how to turn the current health crisis around, especially now that there has been a recent spike in the number of infections of Covid-19 across the country.
According to Dr. Rafael Castillo, MD, on reading the report on rapidly developing ‘escape mutations’ of the novel coronavirus, he tried to trace the development of the currently identified variants and it occurred to him that they all started in countries with massive vaccination clinical trials (the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil).
And now, additional escape mutations have been identified in countries like the United States after mass vaccination, so, Castillo asks if this is just a coincidence? Or could the mass vaccination be paradoxically triggering the propagation of the virus?
He says this is hopefully not so.
“With a 400-percent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases, we definitely have to pause and rethink our situation,” the doctor enthused.
Thus, he proposes the following steps that may help turn this medical crisis around, particularly in hotbed areas.
“At the rate escape mutations are developing, the current vaccines may no longer be effective in a few months, and it would require an urgent round of booster doses plus additional shots perhaps every three to six months to cover for the variants that could number in the hundreds within months,” he said.
“The virus seems capable of mutating every 24 to 48 hours. It’s like shooting at a moving target, and as we hit one, it divides and creates new variants. It’s time we recalibrated our anti-Covid strategy,” Castillo added.
Firstly, he said, the government should urgently shift from a vaccine-centric strategy to a more holistic multipronged approach.
He said that vaccination should be suspended for now and should only go full-blast with measures to control community transmission.
“Continuing the vaccination will only fuel the transmission and promote more mutations and resistance to vaccination,” he cautioned.
In addition, the general practitioner stressed that mass vaccination should proceed only in areas with controlled and stable community transmission.
“Withhold vaccination of the 20 to 40-year-olds to reduce the rate of developing vaccine resistance. Vaccinating them will only create more breeding grounds for virus mutation and resistance development,” he also emphasized.
“Besides, the risk of dying from Covid in the 20 to 40 age group is extremely low and just slightly higher than the risk of dying from vaccination-related adverse reactions. It’s better to allow their system to develop natural, rather than vaccine-generated, immunity that can potentially weaken their innate immunity.”
Regarding priorities in the vaccination program, vaccination should be reserved for the elderly and other high-risk persons whose immune systems are no longer as healthy and reactive as young adults.
“Government must also stop buying more vaccines for the next six months and reallocate the money to buy other immune-system- boosting agents like ivermectin, vitamins D and C, zinc, virgin coconut oil, and melatonin which should be provided for free in hotbed areas. Face masks and shields should also be distributed for free in indigent barangays,” Castillo said.
“The government can invoke its police power and take over the manufacture of these products during this critical period. USP-grade ivermectin is not even available. The government should make emergency importation of this product, which can be easily procured from neighboring countries.”
Finally, agility in adapting and adjusting to prevailing circumstances is paramount, the doctor noted.
“Our previous plans on mass vaccination may not be suitable for now. It’s an excellent tool for the prevention of future transmission but is potentially disastrous in the current situation when community transmission is uncontrolled. This virus is making us think within the box as it slyly operates outside the box. It’s time we stopped being outsmarted by it,” he concluded. (AI/MTVN)