Brace, brace, brace

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    ‘…because PRRD, in his infinite wisdom, continues to see it fit to bless us with the services of this Secretary of Health, then all we can really do is brace.’

    LAST March 20, the Secretary of Health, in an interview about the rising COVID cases, was quoted as saying, “Hindi naman natin alam na papalo ng ganito kataas.” In those simple nine words, you could attribute the hell of a mess the Philippines is in, one year after it first went on nationwide lockdown in an attempt to contain the deadly virus.

    The so-called “whole of nation” approach has put the whole nation at risk.

    I have long stopped trying to wonder why the Secretary of Health remains at the helm of the department when all he does best is deliver face masks to needy individuals. Which makes me think the country will be better off if PRRD lets him go and he is instead picked up by Grab or Lalamove or Mr. Speedy to be one of their delivery associates.

    Let us not forget: on March 6 of 2020, when the first case was detected in Greenhills, this Secretary of Health took to the airwaves to say that everyone should relax because there was no local transmission yet. I was stunned by that remark that I posted on Facebook this question: “So what was this – an immaculate infection?”

    On that same day I posted this, too: When Flor Contemplacion lost her life, FVR fired his Foreign Affairs and Labor secretaries. Now that CoViD is here, PRRD should find a new Health Secretary.”

    Those comments were made on March 6, when we had our first case. Today, we have logged over 663,000 cases, and notched nearly 13,000 deaths. And yet the Secretary of Health, also the same one who boasted that “we have enough test kits and PPEs,” is still there. Still there to tell us how shocked he is to find the cases spiking.

    Why do you think PRRD keeps him? He is not the only doctor of medicine around. Now are we wanting in candidates from both within the DOH and from private practice and even hospital administration.

    Why does PRRD keep him in the face of all these “excellent” work? What gives?
    Brace for the surge is all we can do.

    Couple this with another Secretary, our Vaccine Czar, who elates the nation by saying that based on their calculations we will be able to hit our 70 million herd immunity target through vaccinations. We will have a great Christmas, he said.

    Now let me see. Since this government has been showing a partiality to the Chinese vaccine which comes in two jabs – like all others except the Jansen/J&J version – let’s try to decipher what was in those calculations which made the Vaccine Czar so upbeat.

    Let’s use a population of 100 million as a starting point. Which means you have to vaccinate 70 million. Christmas Day two days ago was 280 days into the future. Divide 70 million by 280 days and you get 250,000 individuals to be vaccinated per day. But since this is a double jab, that’s 500,000 jabs per day. Starting last Friday. Till Christmas Day.

    But where are the vaccines?

    So let’s assume best case that we have all the doses we need starting May 1st. All the way to Christmas Day. That’s 239 days. You need to vaccinate 70 million people. Twice.

    That’s 585,774 people, per day, without stopping, that you have to vaccinate between May 1 and December 25.

    WHO statistics from 2017 showed we had 90,000 nurses, 40,000 doctors, 43,000 midwives and 13,000 medical technologists. Let’s assume 100,000 of these are qualified and willing and able to do the jab, that’s five jabs per day every day between May 1 and Christmas Day. Looks doable looked at this way, but we need to make sure that the 100,000 are deployed well and, of course, that the vaccine supply is sufficient.

    Both are serious issues that need to be mapped now, and not come back to haunt us and have the Secretary of Health again say “Di naman namin akalain na….(put excuse here).”

    I will be checking my calendar constantly for the May 1 D-Day I have set, and will see whether the Vaccine Czar can actually deliver ahead of May 1 in the volumes needed to do the job. I would like to remain hopeful, but know that the thinking man does his best to prepare for the worst.

    “Di naman namin akalain” is uttered by the unprepared, ergo, the un-thinking. And because PRRD, in his infinite wisdom, continues to see it fit to bless us with the services of this Secretary of Health, then all we can really do is brace.

    Just as if we were preparing for a plane crash.