Everything arrives late in the Philippines. Airplanes, brides, election results, snail-mail – why not COVID vaccines?
In Batangas, doctors, nurses, technicians and medical aides got their shots last Thursday night, 17 days after the first “symbolic vaccinations” of frontliners in Metro Manila. Seventeen days!, when Batangas is a short distance from Manila and the drive is overland, on roads that are better, smoother, wider than those in the megacity.
Small wonder, Senator Ping Lacson estimates that at the rate we’re going, it will take us 11 years to achieve herd immunity. Now the senator and other eagle-eyed observers are asking, “Where are the vaccines?”
In Batangas there was “no stock left of SinoVac,” said Dr. N even as word in medical circles is that the Chinese-donated drug is “the freshest to come out of the factory.” But, true to their calling, Dr. N and colleagues were determined to “take what’s available.” As Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s infectious-disease expert puts it, “The best vaccine is the one that’s available now.”
Since the 2020 lockdown, Dr. N and her team have delivered lots of babies, some of them born of mothers whom the doctors would see two to three months later, pregnant again. Also, too many 14-to-17-year-old mothers, which is why the hospital is set to introduce a family planning program, as early as one month postpartum. Involve the prospective fathers, Doctora!
A 70-year-old gentleman tested positive for COVID-19 and couldn’t find a hospital in Manila or QC that would admit him. The last doctor the family consulted advised them, “Our hospital has 100 beds for COVID patients, but we have 105 patients. If his symptoms are not severe, keep him at home,” especially if he’s not obese.
People who are allergic to hospitals refuse to follow the daily DOH numbers that are bad news most of the time, except in the high rate of recoveries. (One set of unpublished figures reads P2,000,000, the cost of confinement in a private hospital.)
Dr. Guido David, not an MD but mathematician, has in mind a solution that could bring down the number of new and rising cases every day: Concentrate vaccinations in Metro Manila in the meantime, it’s the epicenter.
“Heal Metro Manila, you’ll heal the nation,” the good doctor said.