HomeCommentaryThe scourge of COVID-19, malaria rages on

The scourge of COVID-19, malaria rages on

The scientific breakthroughs are saving millions of lives. We just have to make a more equal world where we all can live in peace and prosperity.

The horrific scenes in Brazil and India show people dying in the streets from the lack of preparation by government for the protection of its citizens against the surge of COVID-19. They failed to impose control of mass gatherings and election rallies and now they reap the tragic results — a massive wave of infections. In India, over 300,000 infections are recorded and as many as 3,000 die in one day and every day. It still rages.

The government has failed to provide oxygen to the hospitals and see that there are enough beds in response to a catastrophic calamity. Television reports show people dying at the gates of the hospitals. The hospital wards are crowded with relatives. They will surely be infected and many will soon follow their relatives to the grave. There is no way to save them with the lack of medicine and oxygen. The vicious virus attacks the lungs and racks the body with fever. It is a terrible disease and hundreds of thousands are dying around the world.

Everybody needs to know this and act with intelligence and protect themselves, their families, and neighbors from the horrible virus. It knows no bounds, has no restrictions, and is almost unstoppable. We have to live with it and hope that a rapid rollout of the vaccine, especially in the Philippines, will start soon and at least slow the virus’ rapid progress.

In the meantime, everyone should wear masks, wash their hands frequently with disinfectant, and keep physical distance at all times. That is a small sacrifice to make to stay healthy and not get infected or infect someone else. There is no vaccine that will give 100 percent protection even if one gets a second jab. They all have different efficacies. Science is terrific in discovering vaccines and cures and healing and giving people protection and teaching us about many things.

Sinovac is all that is available in the Philippines at present but it is much better than no vaccine at all and everyone ought to get it when and where it is available. Published reports show AstraZeneca is 70.4 percent effective after the second shot. Pfizer-BioNTech is effective up to 94.70 percent after the second dose; Moderna, 94.1 percent; Sinovac 50.40 percent after the second dose.

The AstraZeneca vaccine-maker made a deal with the Philippines to supply 2.66 million injections. It has an average of 70 percent effectiveness. However if a half-dose is first given and then later a full shot is given, the efficacy rate jumps to 90 percent. Pfizer and Moderna claimed similar results. AstraZeneca costs lower. One thing the vaccine will do is to prevent a severe attack.

There is no reason for people to fear or hesitate to get vaccinated. There is just a feeling of nervousness, lack of confidence and knowledge and understanding and fear perhaps of getting COVID. That is unfounded. The person will be protected as the vaccine stimulates the immune system to resist the virus if it enters the body. Vaccines work and they have eliminated smallpox and polio, allowing millions to live a healthy life.

- Newsletter -

Local health frontliners are doing a good job making vaccines available to frontline workers and those on the priority list. So no one can let down their guard even if they have received the injection and the second one, too. There is a stronger variant of the virus circulating that infects even those with the best of protective gear. Many doctors and nurses are falling ill and dying no matter how protected they are. Their frequent proximity to the patients with COVID-19 is like a death trap.

We greatly respect and honor the health workers for risking their lives for others and their courage in continuing to do their duty and exert all efforts to help save lives of the many patients that are overflowing the hospitals in Metro Manila where the most cases are.

On April 25, we marked World Malaria Day with the theme “Reaching the Zero Malaria Target.” About 400,000 people die every year from malaria, most of them children in Africa, Asia, and South America. This is another scourge that rages throughout the world and as yet no effective vaccine has been found until recently. In the past weeks, a medical breakthrough has been announced. The World Health Organization estimates there were 229 million cases worldwide in 2019 and 409,000 deaths. The University of Oxford team, behind the new vaccine, tested it in Africa where malaria kills hundreds of thousands and it has been proven 77% effective in stopping the disease.

The scientific breakthroughs are saving millions of lives. We just have to make a more equal world where we all can live in peace and prosperity.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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