THE rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 positive causes alarm to people especially those who based their perception on the said data alone without comparing it with the number of those who recovered from the disease, the number of deaths and the severity of the cases.
Mr. Nicanor Perlas, a Filipino activist and awardee of the Right Livelihood Award in 2003, which is often referred as an alternative Nobel Prize in his blog entitled “No Need To Panic Over Infection Numbers: Deaths Continue To Decrease,” mentioned that at this time, the number of infections, while important, is not the overriding indicator to base policy decisions on.
Perlas said that significant uncertainties are surrounding the accuracy of testing and the establishment of infection numbers. These issues, according to him, lead to problematic media reporting, misguided policy decisions, and a confused, fearful public.
Perlas in the article mentioned that the Inter-Agency Task Force, Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines, media and others are forgetting an important law in epidemiology, the science of epidemics: Farr’s Law. It states: ‘The death rate is a fact; anything beyond this is an inference’. The real crucial indicator to watch is the death rate or Case Fatality Rate (CFR), not infection numbers that are inferences from faulty tests.
He narrated that since 15 May 2020, with very minor variations due to erratic reporting, our death rate has been declining for over two months. With these premises, he proposed that we should be hopeful, not fearful.
The author based his theory on two occasions of the Department of Health (DOH) reports. One was on July 18, 2020, when DOH reported 2,357 new cases, placing the nationwide total of cases to 65,304 where 90 percent of these active cases had “mild symptoms” and 9 percent had no symptoms. In short, he said, 99 percent of new cases were really nothing to get overly excited about.
He also mentioned an earlier report by DOH when the new active cases reported were 39,593. Of this number, those with mild symptoms constituted 90.3 percent of the cases and 8.8 percent had no symptoms. Around 0.4 percent were severe cases and another 0.4 percent were in critical condition. In short, Perlas concluded that again 99 percent of the new cases were not serious at all
Secondly, Perlas referred to the July 20 report of the DOH that showed that 23,072 patients have recovered and only four additional deaths occurred. He continued that on July 21, the DOH reported 1,951 new cases, bringing the total cases to 70,764. From the said report, it mentioned that only two deaths occurred and recoveries were up by another 209, bringing total recoveries to 23,281.
Those factual reports given by DOH made Perlas conclude that the vast majority or 99 percent of new infections are not serious. Also, most of these cases eventually recover, constituting 32.89 percent (23,281) of the total cases of 70,764 (based on the report during the writing of Mr. Perlas’ blog)
The article written by Mr. Perlas though provided a glimmer of hope for the Philippines in managing the Pandemic but this should not be a reason for us to relax our guards. We always need to follow basic protocols and safety and health measures to combat the spread of the disease.
To emphasize, we need to: WEAR FACE MASK (face shield is recommended for added protection), MAINTAIN PHYSICAL DISTANCING, WASH HANDS FREQUENTLY AND IF POSSIBLE, DISINFECT REGULARLY, STAY AT HOME MOST OF THE TIME. As an added protection, avoid these 3Cs – CLOSED AREAS WITH LESS VENTILATION, CROWDED PLACES and CLOSE CONVERSATIONS.