How much more suffering?
At the present rate the country is going in its vaccination rollout, it will take us 11 years before we can have herd immunity against COVID-19. That is, going by the scientifically accepted requirement that 70% of the population must be vaccinated before communal immunity develops.
Now the government is targeting two million vaccinations per week. If that can be attained, which is quite iffy, it will take the country about 12 months or one year to vaccinate 70% of the population. This would accommodate some false steps along the way.
The next question is, where are the vaccines? We need 70 million of these. While there was that announcement the other day that a contract had already been signed by the Philippine government and the Serum Institute of India, the biggest vaccine manufacturer in the world, for the purchase of 30 million jabs, the problem is, when will these arrive? It seems that we cannot rely on whatever the government will announce. If it says next month, there can be delays, making the arrival several months later.
By then a lot of people would have died. While most of those who would give up the ghost are those with co-morbidities, the most tragic will be those who might commit suicide due to depression. Already many young kids, frustrated with the virtual system of education or their inability to cope had committed suicide, and sadly, there will be a lot more.
As to the jobless, they are increasing by leaps and bounds as more and more big companies downsize. Quite a number of operators in export processing zones have recently laid off so many of their employees due to cancelled orders from their customers. Previously, the export companies held on to these employees as the bulk of their orders were on hold, but now they were advised to consider these cancelled due to crushed demand with no relief in sight.
As to the MSMEs (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises) which employ more than 90 percent of our workforce, a lot of these who managed to survive the past year, will also throw in the towel in the next few months. They would not be able to wait for one and one-half more years– the bulk of the jabs will arrive several months from now, and then the rollout. In sum, the one and one-half years is still a very rosy (read: unrealistically optimistic) prediction based on the government’s target of two million vaccinations in a week. This is not even factoring in how inefficient we can be when it comes to implementation.
Is it what we deserve? Might be. There are still many violators of minimum health protocols, some even believe that the COVID-19 is fake having been concocted for business purposes, and most of the citizens are not properly taking care of their immune systems.
So, by the most optimistic calculation, we will suffer for one and one-half more years.**