By Michael K. Raeuber
Challenges are always opportunities, and…
Crises as big as the present ones always contain messages and lessons about past failures and future possibilities.
Why not regard the Covid-19 crisis as a kind of involuntary social experiment that may change society? In my view, it has the potential to change society for the better!
Can we accept that there is life beyond the death toll live ticker? Maybe it is time to focus on those who have recovered. I am certain the number is much higher than the 8 listed by the Department of Health.
Beyond the endless dismay reports, can we develop more focus on opportunities in the economic environment we are faced with? I promise you, there are opportunities.
Let us all fully support the government’s decision to reduce or avoid the spread of infection of Covid-19 and flatten the infection curve to be better equipped to cope with the infection and be enabled to give more attention, and help as needed, to risk persons, the very young, the very old and the ones that are suffering from health problems already.
Having said this, it is essential that we learn from those countries that are transparent in their approaches to bring the virus under control. We need to learn from South Korea and copy their successful test procedures. We need testing kits badly; the Food and Drug Administration should urgently speed up their approval system! And we need a more adequate health infrastructure, living up to the potentially serious challenges posed.
It is good to see that local, as well as international scientists are looking at virus patterns that will hopefully yield data on transmission dynamics. But I would like everybody to understand that in real life, most, actually almost all people eventually recover. At lot of scientists believe that, a recovered person can neither transmit to a healthy person, nor become sick again after coming into contact with a sick person. Other scientists are not convinced of this yet; it is trusted that immunity after recovery of the virus will be scientifically established soonest.
More important, research already shows that many young people in the 20s and 30s get the virus and recover from the infection like they do when they have a mild flu, some of them even without any symptoms.
A recovered person is the ideal partner to help medical research to find antidotes/antibodies fast. The Philippines is an extremely young society with an average age in the lower 20s. I promise you that if we would start asking young people who had flu-like symptoms during the last few weeks to come forward and be tested, we will raise the number of recovered persons substantially.
As soon as immunity after recovery of the virus is scientifically established, the growing number of “recovered” persons need to be identified with a clear ID so that he or she can be employed, live as normal and with that get our economy recovering from the threat of and already experienced decline faster.
Let me be more specific:
My idea is to connect government with the suppliers of tamper proof ID’s, to be issued to recovered Covid -19 patients;
Bearers of these IDs would then be completely exempted from any and all restrictions of movements, enabling them to help in any ways they can, consume and work unhampered, preventing further contacts between yet uninfected person with persons possibly infected and in that way return to normalcy and commercial activities much faster, not only flattening the curve of effected persons but also the negative impact to our economy.
The pilfer-proof IDs can be made available on short notice and it may well be possible to instrumentalize the equipment used for issuing licenses, as equipment spread out throughout the country is available. Possibly it makes sense to have the option to change drivers’ license ID’s themselves, with respective marks, to issue the “Covid-19” licenses, in all LTO offices throughout the country.
In conclusion, let’s embrace the future.
Government, the private sector and civil society can work together and get the Philippine economy going again, keep and get even more people employed and focus on opportunities.
Michael Raeuber is the chairman and Group CEO of Royal Cargo Inc., deeply involved in transport and cold storage, including food and pharmaceuticals. He is also the chairman of EITSC, the vice chairman of the Integrity Initiative, head of the Infrastructure and Logistics Committee of the ECCP and a member of the MSGC of the Bureau of Customs.
Michael Raeuber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org