"We have survived the pandemic up to this point. Let’s ensure that we remain healthy as we gradually revert to a COVID-free life."
This week, the country marked the start of its vaccination program against COVID-19. This is the culmination of our sacrifices and efforts to survive this pandemic—the light at the end of the tunnel, the magic potion, likened to a panacea for all ills. I share the public excitement on the availability of the vaccines. However, we need to remain vigilant as we await its effects on the intended herd immunity.
The health and safety of the people are always the primary consideration in all the policies and recommendations implemented by the government in our combat against COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide, scientists and health professionals are in solidarity in encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Truly, science has, for a long time, proven to help improve the lives of the people, and today, we heavily rely on this science to take us out of this pandemic alive.
Yet, when we speak of science, we also need to speak of accuracy, effectiveness, and reliability. The vaccines from which we depend on and which are being developed by pharmaceutical companies worldwide are strictly required to meet these qualifications. In such a pandemic, apart from the promptness of the cure or solution, we need to first and foremost consider its safety and efficacy against the disease.
Understandably, there are other significant factors that must be taken into consideration in procuring the vaccine needed by the public. For one, handling is important. Before entering into any agreement, we must secure first the capability to store these vaccines so as to prevent spoilage. The costs may come in second or third. Nonetheless, efficacy should be at the very top of the list.
Studies on the vaccines are ongoing. There have been patterns already established that serve as basis in determining the quality of these vaccines. Due diligence demands that we ensure the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. We have options. Sinovac vaccines have been deployed in selected COVID-19 hospitals already. Vaccines from AstraZeneca are reportedly expected within the month. Sinopharm has reportedly filed for emergency use authorization with the FDA. Meanwhile, Pfizer is expected to deliver by the second quarter of the year and talks with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still continuing.
When the lives of the people are at stake, the right to information must be upheld, and the individual’s rights to his or her own health must be protected. With this, I urge the FDA to ensure that the vaccines approved are all proven safe and effective and to provide us with the relevant and truthful information that we need to make knowledgeable decisions on the vaccines. Due diligence should not stop at issuing approval but should continue with monitoring and studying the impact of such vaccines. I also call on the national government, particularly the health department, to strengthen their information drive on the available vaccines in the country at the grassroots to dispel any fear or doubt, and correct any fake news circulating against the vaccines. Lastly, we also have to be diligent on our own and continuously comply with the health protocols. We have survived the pandemic up to this point. Let’s ensure that we remain healthy as we gradually revert to a COVID-free life.