The Third-World’s “Slow War” on COVID-19 Cannot Handle Virus Mutations

by Bobby Reyes

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

Part XII of the “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” Series

Third World countries — like the Philippines — continue to struggle with providing enough vaccines to their citizens and residents that want them. Things would have been worse if the United States did not deliver on July 16-17, 2021, a total of 3,240,850 one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the Philippines as part of its worldwide effort to combat COVID-19.

Many Third-World countries struggle to provide COVID-19 testing, contract tracing, treatment, and vaccination because their governments prioritize pork-barrel expenditures instead of using dwindling public funds for healthcare and/or economic-stimulus support for the masses, especially the poorest of the poor.

According to the World Health Organization, “the percentage of people that needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%. The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known. This is an important area of research and will likely vary according to the community, the vaccine, the populations prioritized for vaccination, and other factors.”

To date, just over half the United States’ population of 330-million are fully vaccinated. But the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise again. The increased tallies are due to the Delta variant’s spread caused primarily by people that refuse to be vaccinated. The refusal of states controlled by Republican governors to require their respective constituents to wear the mask again and do social distancing worsened matters. Bad political decisions and indifference to vaccination lead to more sickened or dead Americans. According to CNN, as of this week, more than 90-million Americans that are qualified (by age and health conditions) refuse to receive the free vaccination (being paid by their federal government).

The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known. This is an important area of research and will likely vary according to the community, the vaccine, the populations prioritized for vaccination, and other factors.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccines were sent directly to the Philippines via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, a global initiative to support equitable access to Covid 19 vaccines. Both Pfizer and Moderna are testing the so-called “booster vaccines” (or a third shot) and are working with U.S. health authorities to counteract more powerful new variants of the COVID-19. The “booster strategy” may be implemented by autumn of this year (or just in a matter of months).

According to reports from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Chargé d’Affaires John Law and Acting USAID Mission Director Sean Callahan and top Filipino officials at Ninoy Aquino (Manila) International Airport welcomed the arrival of the Johnson-&-Johnson vaccines. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III, IATF Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority Karl Chua represented the Philippines.

The Philippine government received another 3-million Moderna vaccine doses from the United States government on August 3rd. Filipino health officials sought a more donated supply of vaccines in their efforts to contain the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19’s Delta variant.

The delivery of 3,000,060 Moderna doses follows the earlier donation of 3.2-million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, which arrived in the country in mid-July. The Moderna doses brought the total number of vaccines donated by the U.S. to some 6-million doses – the largest donation so far from a single country to the Philippines.

As gathered from other published reports, approximately 12-million people received the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines. Other vaccines that came were purchased or donated vaccines from China, Russia, and other countries. This means that roughly 9.8-million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the virus since Aug. 3, 2021.

COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines started in March 2021, and the country aims to vaccinate 58-million people by the end of the year. On a population of nearly 120-million, the target of 58-million vaccinated Filipinos may not be enough to attain “herd immunity.”

The Philippines needs to fully vaccinate between 70-to-90-million citizens to reach the “herd-immunity” level. This was why this column proposed on April 21, 2021, How to find funding to vaccinate 90-million Filipinos in 90-Days at this link.

The argument that the COVID-19 virus will not spread easily in an archipelago like Indonesia and the Philippines has been proven false. On April 18, 2021, this column reported that “the Philippines has the 2nd- highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia (after Indonesia) and ranks 7th in Asia and 27th in the world. The largest single-day increase in the number of confirmed cases was reported on April 2, 2021, when the Department of Health (DOH) announced 15,310 new cases.” Please read how the Overseas Filipinos can also end vaccine imperialism at this link.

“The Philippines needs to fully vaccinate between 70-to-90-million citizens to reach the “herd-immunity” level. This was why this column proposed on April 21, 2021, How to find funding to vaccinate 90-million Filipinos in 90-Days at this link.”

What is sad (and tragic) with the dire situation in the Philippines insofar as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned is that we tried our best to inform Filipino national-and-provincial leaders about the coming epidemics and the resulting famines — as early as August of 2013. I also talked about the “educated guesses” of the coming pandemic and famine when I ran for governor of Sorsogon in the 2016 election.

I told Dr. Fernando Perfas, my fellow columnist, in the Philippine Daily Mirror, about my vision of the coming pandemics. Here is what I posted as a comment in Dr. Perfas’ column:

RE: Your (other) article on ‘The War on COVID-19′ and American Rugged Individualism )… If only Filipino leaders, especially the political leaders of my home province of Sorsogon, listened to my 2013 ‘prophecy’ (sic) about a coming pandemic. Look at his posting in the Facebook group SorsoGold on August 8, 2013.) ‘This discussion should be more relevant today due to the Ebola health crisis in West Africa and the latest case of a patient in New York City who is suspected of having the Ebola virus.) I wrote on August 5, 2013: QUOTE. My childhood friend, Augusto Surtida, & I have been discussing the ‘Doomsday Scenario (D/S)’ that may result in the deaths of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people all over the world — IF & WHEN a Spanish Flu-like pandemic (now like SARS &/or MERS) hits us & then followed-up by famine & other diseases. Would you please follow up on the discussion in this thread?
“I am also boldly predicting that Sorsoganons will be among the survivors of the ‘Doomsday Scenario’ — if we prepare in the next 3-to-7 years the ways & means of surviving the coming Apocalypse. UNQUOTE.”

Some fellow Sorsoganons have called this columnist “the Nostradamus of Sorsogon.” This week, a Los Angeles (CA)-based Filipino-American journalist and book author, Mar G. De Vera, commented in the “Memories” feature of the Facebook (when I shared the above Aug. 8, 2013, re-posting) that “Bobby M. Reyes is a prophet of doom.”

I also told Dr. Perfas about his recent column about dreams, nightmares, and Ventures Into A Paranormal. Perhaps he should also talk about visions that appear (from time to time) in the subconscious of Overseas Filipinos like me. Sometimes, when some of us, especially OFWs, are about to wake up in the wee hours, we have paranormal visions about our Philippines homeland. Often my friends and I laugh at our supposed visions but eventually, some of our prophetic dreams and concerns become a reality.

Readers may like to go back to Dr. Fernando Perfas’s article on the “Paranormal” at this link.

Perhaps Dr. Perfas may like to discuss in his When Ideas Matter column or in The Straphanger the need to change for the better the “Filipino psyche” in dealing with pandemics, illegal-drug addiction, and even corruption in government, the public sector, and in even in churches. This is one of the ideas that our “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” wants to do, as discussed tentatively with Dr. Perfas and his colleagues.

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