Monday, September 20, 2021

Editorial: ‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’

THE recent increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the US has been blamed on the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), which has been spreading across a country.

What has become apparent is that the patients are almost exclusively people who aren’t vaccinated and the outbreak is happening in places where the rate of vaccine hesitancy is high.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky has described the situation as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

According to Walensky, the US “is averaging about 26,000 new cases per day–up 70 percent from the previous week,” while “hospitalizations are up 36 percent and deaths are up 26 percent to an average of 211 per day.”

The CDC said 97 percent of the people confined in hospitals for severe Covid-19 infections were unvaccinated.

Filipinos should take note, especially those who continue to harbor suspicions of the government’s vaccination program against Covid-19.

On July 16, 2021, the Philippines reported its first local cases of the delta variant, prompting Malacañang to place some areas outside the capital under the strictest lockdown.

The Duterte administration cannot afford to take the matter lightly as the Philippines boasts the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia, logging nearly 1.5 million and more than 26,000 deaths since the pandemic began in March last year.

It has seen how the delta variant has devastated the health care systems of both India and Indonesia, which is why it has prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have boosted testing and tracing and ensured that hospital are “ready for a surge.”

Although the delta variant has yet to reach Central Visayas, the utilization rate of ward, isolation and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for Covid-19 patients in the region has increased, as of Wednesday, July 21, 2021.

A little over 60 percent of isolation beds in level three hospitals are occupied, but this is still considered in the safe zone.

It is important to emphasize that the World Health Organization categorized the delta variant as a variant of concern because it has increased transmissibility and not because it is necessarily more fatal.

However, if the sectors that are most vulnerable–health care workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities–do not heed proven health and social measures that prevent infection or get vaccinated, then the possibility of them getting infected with the delta variant skyrockets.

Hence, they must take advantage of the limited and sporadic supply of vaccines in the country by registering for inoculation.

All Covid-19 cases and deaths are preventable because of the vaccine. Anti-vaxxers have no one to blame but themselves if they contract the virus. And that’s a tragedy.


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