"It has been a vicious cycle."
A seemingly endless story—despite the availability of the vaccines and several ongoing studies on the possible treatments against COVID-19, we have been dancing with the ever-changing quarantine guidelines in a song that never ends. It has been a vicious cycle. Metro Manila is now in the nth general community quarantine, but with heightened restrictions. While the number of cases reported has been down to around four to six thousand daily since the quarantine was eased, we are still waiting and praying for much lower numbers.
Amidst this monotonous narrative on increasing cases, AstraZeneca vaccines are reportedly nearing their expiration date. While the Department of Health assured us of faster inoculation in the days to come, the concerns on the timely administration of the vaccines are sadly valid. At present, we have received vaccines from Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya, and Pfizer, reportedly amounting to more than 7 million doses in total. Meanwhile, only over 2.5 million people already got their first shot of COVID-19 vaccine. While local government units are working to inoculate as many people as possible, the rate of vaccination is notably low. Hence, it is unsurprising that some vaccines may expire before they even reach the intended priority groups.
Vaccines have been proven to significantly decrease the risks of getting sick from COVID-19. At present, these are the only definite protection we can get against this pandemic. Hence, I reiterate my call for the expedited procurement, delivery, and distribution of the vaccines. As we are aiming for herd immunity, the national government should put its foot down and resolve these issues on procurement and distribution. It is not so much on building new sites. Perhaps, we can utilize existing facilities in cities and municipalities to serve as venues for vaccination. The Department of Health should step up and augment capacities of LGUs to transport, store, and administer these vaccines to more people to be able to reach its targeted 50 million to 70 million vaccinated population by the end of the year.
During the third round of ECQ, it is evident that quarantine restrictions are not enough to bring down the numbers. We have seen the ebb and flow of cases whenever we ease restrictions, but when will the decrease be steady? We have seen the struggles of many Filipinos every time protocols are changed. Let us put an end to this vicious cycle. Next month, the Bayanihan 2 funds will expire. Some municipalities have yet to utilize the funds for the supposed economic and livelihood programs as many areas were placed in enhanced and modified enhanced community quarantine in the past months. We are all aggravated by such a course of events that has been repeatedly resorted to whenever cases soar. I hope the government focuses its efforts and energy on improving our COVID-19 response and in expediting the vaccination program across regions. Pandemic fatigue is another problem that is slowly emerging. While we do our best to keep our spirits up, I hope the government likewise does its best to keep COVID-19 at bay.