SARS Cov-2 is not a lifeform. Unlike military men deployed to battle it SARS Cov-2 is not sentient. It does not know greed. It cannot re-channel P42 billion to enrich influential fly-by-night hawkers of protective paraphernalia.
It cannot squeal, lose its temper, or blow its top off. The virus can however be adaptable in exponential degrees that easily overwhelm the inept, and the unqualified confronting it. It adapts by developing variants and within a variant there can be several mutations. The Alpha variant has four key mutations. A function of prevalence and spread rate, the highly transmissible Delta variant (B.1.617.2), is a double mutant with two key mutations, E484Q and L452R.
Against variants, the data show vaccines are effective albeit in varying degrees where infections are also a function of comorbidities, individual immune systems, and the viral loads within an environment. Under certain vaccines, our body’s specific elicited-neutralizing antibodies (Nabs) might be less effective. This is where the importance of a vaccine’s related efficacy should be factored in by any intelligent official in charge of vaccinations.
Unfortunately, we have constantly lagged behind the curve. The reasons are legion. From deploying the wrong officials to ineffective contact-tracing, to employing a singular measure for a multi-dimensional mutating problem, to ignoring the pandemic’s latent demands and deliberately diverting billions to enrich peddlers.
Over a year and a half ago, to combat SARS Cov-2 we deployed our most lethal military minds, recruiting most from war-torn Mindanao. This invader is however no different from the hostile hegemonic horror that comes ashore and sweeps into vulnerable civilian populations. SARS Cov-2 has taken control of our lives and economy, killing more than we might have otherwise lost had we battled the armies from whom these germinated.
In mid-2020, it was confirmed the virus was airborne and aerosolized. This rendered cloth and single surgical masks, face shields, two-meter distancing, plexiglass and plastic separating in-door diners, office cubicles and public transport commuters ineffective. Enclosed transportation, buses, trains, and taxicabs entrap the virus. Diagonal seating cannot stop aerosolized transmission. The virus is transmissible by mere exhalation and inhaling ambient air, spread through enclosed areas, centralized air-conditioning in offices, elevators, through ducts across floors and multiple storeys. Worse, data show it lingers from minutes to hours after people have left.
What did the generals virtually ignore? Among the words prominent under Harry Roque’s nose - "mask", "hugas", "iwas" plus "bakuna", none directly address air quality and ventilation or the differences among strains.
The doctors have tried to simplify by promoting minimum "APAT Dapat’’ measures – Air circulation, Physical distancing, Always wear face masks and shields, and Thirty-minute interaction or less. For their efforts, hysterical shouting, shrieking, screaming, and squealing was the response. Moreover, the capital costs to mitigate aerosolized transmission require aggressive paradigm shifts where air filtration, ventilation, workplace reconfiguration and air quality monitors enter the cost equation. All these impact on transmissibility.
On vaccination strategies, by allowing trade, profit, and politics to determine choices, we continue to enrich the peddlers of the least efficacious, shortest-run albeit the most expensive where efficacy per peso is the basis. Recall the profiteering modus where billions were spirited to line trader’s pockets. We desperately need to change those complicit, both the capos and their soldiers. They have ignored too much as it is.
(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics professor.)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.