HomeNewsFilipino scientist-priest urges public to get COVID-19 vaccines when available

Filipino scientist-priest urges public to get COVID-19 vaccines when available

Various surveys show that public trust and confidence in vaccines have apparently declined in the Philippines in recent weeks

A Filipino Dominican priest who is currently working on a possible COVID-19 vaccine urged people to avail of vaccination programs against the new coronavirus disease.

“These vaccines will save lives and protect our health care system,” said Dominican Father Nicanor Austriaco. “They will end the pandemic and remove the looming threat of lockdown and social disruption,” he added.

The priest said he trusts the scientific process that has gone into the development and testing of the vaccines, saying it “rely on decades of research.”

He said that “It is not like scientists just woke up one morning at the beginning of the pandemic and started from scratch.”

The Dominican priest, who is associate professor of biology in the United States, said “a lot of great science went into these vaccines and a lot of great scientists were needed to generate that great science.”

Father Austriaco said the vaccines that have been developed against COVID-19 “are safe and efficacious.”

He said the “side effects” that people reported are “signs that the vaccine is working.”

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“These are signs that the vaccine is jumpstarting my immune response so that I can make those precious antibodies that will wipe out the COVID-19 virus if I am exposed to them for real in the future,” said the priest.

He said that as soon as a vaccine becomes available in the country he would himself volunteer to be vaccinated.

As the Philippine government announced that it will roll its vaccination program in the first quarter of 2021, public trust and confidence in vaccines have apparently declined.

A survey by the Octa Research Group revealed that only 25 percent of the respondents are willing to be vaccinated, while 28 percent would choose not to be vaccinated once the vaccines are available in the country.

A survey done by Pulse Asia also showed that only 32 percent were willing to be inoculated, while 47 percent would not receive the vaccine and 21 percent were undecided.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday, January 12, said the increase in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is “inevitable” given the gatherings of people during the holiday season and the recent “feast” of the Black Nazarene.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said physical distancing was not observed through the Christmas and New Year holidays, which may give rise to the surge of new coronavirus infections.

“It is inevitable that the Philippines is going to see an increase of cases,” he said.

The WHO official said the country now needs to break the chain of infection through early detection, isolation, and contact tracing efforts.

On Monday, the Philippines logged 2,052 additional coronavirus infections – the first time the country reached 2,000 new cases since December 18.

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