Covid-19: It’s not over yet, maybe

With the data from the Department of Health often delayed and “adjusted,” it is difficult for the average person to get a grip on the genuine Covid-19 situation in the Philippines. As with all data examination, the larger the number, the less likely accurate conclusions can be drawn.

Therefore, it might be better to look at other data rather than the number of cases, deaths, or tests conducted. A month ago, there was great and valid concern about the facilities dedicated to Covid patients being overwhelmed. At one point in the National Capital Region, we were up to nearly 80 percent of all Intensive Care Units and Isolation wards being occupied.

Currently, less than 50 percent of ICU and Isolation units nationwide are occupied, and about 60 percent of that number is in the NCR. However, here again the data is not as “clean” as it might appear. When there was concern, some if not many hospitals opened up more ICU and isolation beds for Covid patients.

Many people during the lockdown did take the time to learn a foreign language or organize their closets. But perhaps people spent most of their time becoming professionals at “20/20 hindsight.” God help the next virus that tries to take over the world because there are now legions of health experts with answers that are ready to do battle. We are prepared with a range of options from North Korea’s “shoot on sight” anyone displaying symptoms of illness, to Sweden’s basic strategy of letting the virus run its course.

In fact, Sweden became one of the most “hated” countries in 2020 for not following the mass lockdown protocols used by almost every other nation. The New York Times called Sweden a “pariah state.” That is the sort of language usually reserved for a nation that uses nerve gas to kill its own citizens (Iraq) or has a leader who reportedly boasts “I keep the decapitated heads of political enemies in my freezer.”

But it turns out that Sweden is like the smartest person in high school that everybody hated. That person goes on to invent a Smartphone app that makes him or her a billionaire and you use it every day. You remember their name; they don’t remember yours.

Sweden did suffer a large number of preventable deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Who would have figured that a bunch of old and probably sick people in one place would probably get sick and die if Covid was spread in there?

But here is the cautionary tale. Anders Tegnell, the Swedish state epidemiologist and architect of the “Sweden strategy,” says: “To believe that once the vaccine is here, we can go back and live as we always have done. I think that’s a dangerous message to send because it’s not going to be that easy.”

Nonetheless, we need to take our chances, take proper precautions, and get back to work. But it is confusing. A couple of months ago, standing less than two meters from a stranger might be a death sentence. Now, we will be down to 0.75 of a meter on public transportation.

But then again, economic experts are now health experts and medical practitioners know what is best for the economy. Thank goodness there are only 108 days left until 2021.


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