Imee urges PH to brace for a no-herd immunity scenario

Imee urges PH to brace for a no-herd immunity scenario

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Imee Marcos said the country should prepare for a
worst-case scenario wherein herd immunity could no longer be attained.

“Herd immunity remains theoretical and has become a moving target.
Last year it was 70% of the population, today it’s 90%, but tomorrow
it may well be out of range,” Marcos said.

“With booster shots already in high demand, even as first doses have
yet to reach populations in less developed countries, will vaccine
manufacturers are able to provide?” Marcos asked.

Besides precarious global vaccine supply, Marcos added that
breakthrough infections among the vaccinated, the emergence of more
variants, the uncertain length of vaccine efficacy, and the possible
reduction of healthcare capacities due to hospital shutdowns and
worker protests are also among the factors that make attaining herd
immunity seems unlikely.

“I’d rather be the bearer of bad news than of false hope. The fact is,
pandemic control worldwide has become a Sisyphean struggle,” Marcos
added, alluding to the Greek myth of the king whose eternal punishment
for holding Death hostage was to keep pushing a boulder uphill without
ever reaching the top.

Adding to the anxiety, Marcos said, is the lifting of immigration bans
on 10 countries, which takes effect today after being recommended to
the President by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of
Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Travelers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Oman, Thailand, India, Indonesia,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will
now be allowed entry to the Philippines, subject to testing and
quarantine protocols.

Despite the precautions in place, Marcos contends that the
Philippines’ low vaccination rate of 13% of its population makes the
IATF’s recommendation is “reckless, if premature.”

Marcos cited that the United States, which has vaccinated about 54% of
its population still restricts entry to non-immigrant travelers from
India and lists Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, and the UAE as
‘Very High Risk’ countries, while Indonesia, Oman, and Sri Lanka are
considered ‘High Risk’.

The United Kingdom, which has fully vaccinated about 65% of its
population, puts Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Sri
Lanka, and Thailand on its ‘Red List’.

“While we pray for a miracle and a cure, we must support healthcare
capacities by paying government debts to hospitals and healthcare
workers ASAP, conclude our own clinical trials for repurposed drugs
like Ivermectin, include booster shots in the 2022 national budget and
increase funding for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
while a virology institute is yet to be built to develop
Philippine-made vaccines,” Marcos said.

“On a personal level, let’s observe an immunity-boosting lifestyle
regimen of getting adequate sleep, keeping hydrated, exercising
regularly, quitting cigarettes and alcohol, taking Vitamin C and zinc,
and making natural health food like malunggay and virgin coconut oil
part of our diet,” Marcos added. (ai/mtvn)

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