Categories
Opinion

From Russia with vaccine

The image above sums up the process of how a vaccine is developed. Now that we’re living in a global pandemic, a vaccine is seen as something that will bring an end to lockdowns, economic downturns, and a return to normalcy. Hence the next image:

Scientists and vaccine makers around the world are racing to make one that is safe and effective against SARS-CoV-2 with the World Health Organization leading the global effort at an unprecedented pace. At the moment, there are more than 165 vaccines being developed of which 31 are in various stages of human trials.

The latest to grab international headlines is dubbed Sputnik-V which was announced by no less than Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 11 as ‘ready for public use.’ Much like how the first Sputnik satellite drew global attention back in 1957, Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine brought much shock and awe the world over.

The shock as scientists and medical experts has condemned Russia’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that has skipped Stage 3 phase of clinical trials. Apart from the risks of side effects that could be harmful, a vaccine that turns out to be ineffective could undermine immunization efforts the world over and not just against the coronavirus. This would even play into the hands of anti-vaxxers to further their agenda. Overall, it threatens global health atop of the natural threat that is COVID-19 which has already killed millions, destroyed livelihoods, and caused worldwide suffering.

It didn’t help that President Durterte was quick to announce that Russia would be supplying the vaccine to the Philippines, something that he has been desperately clinging on to as his administration has struggled and miserably failed to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Never mind that even Russian health experts have voiced their opposition to fast-tracking Sputnik-V, Duterte even volunteered to be the first Filipino to get injected.

Days after his late-night address, his spokesperson confirmed that indeed the Philippines would be participating in the Phase III trials for the Russian vaccine. Ironic since the administration has used another controversial vaccine – Dengvaxia, to score political points against the opposition.

If this is not madness, I don’t know what else is.

Categories
Asides

Concerned Online Citizens vs Executive Secretary et al.

Last July 29, 2020, Concerned Online Citizens – social media personalities, bloggers, artists, professionals even students who use the internet and social media to speak on issues of public concern in filed a petition to strike down as unconstitutional the Anti-Terror Law.

  • Let’s fight for our rights both online and offline
  • The Bill of Rights should apply everywhere, including the internet
  • Free expression should be protected across frontiers and the media we use
  • There should be no threats and no terrorist-tagging of citizens expressing themselves online and offline
  • 73 million online Filipinos should be protected
  • The people should not be afraid of government. The government should be afraid of its people.
  • Cybercrime Law noon, terror law ngayon
  • Kung walang ginagawang mali, bakit takot ang gobyerno sa placards at Facebook posts

I am humbled and privileged to join some of the biggest names on social media today:
@macoydubs1

@SexbombGurl

@robcham

@victoryliner

@thysz

@markgeronimo_

@ka_bino

@PinoyAkoBlog

@darnitJC

@mongster

@leanporquia

@Punongbayan_

@albertraqueno

@blogie

@TheRainBro

@giasison

& Aling Marie

Below is a fully copy of our petition.

We wish we could have added more, however time & the restrictions of the on-going community quarantine have prevented us from doing so.

Follow & interact with all of each of us, we are eager to hear from you as well especially if you have experienced harassment or being attacked online for speaking up. Together, we will defend and fight for our rights be online or offline.

Categories
Science

AGHAM – The State of Science & Technology in the Philippines

Was able to join a webinar by Advocates of Science and Technology for the People or AGHAM on The State of Science & Technology in the Philippines and although I had to leave early, it’s an eye-opener not just for science geeks but also for anyone who believes in science.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only exposed the terrible health care, education and governance of the Philippines, the same could be said of science and technology.

Below is a presentation featured in today’s webinar:

Aside from good governance, good science and technology is badly needed not only if we are to control the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to move the country forward in genuine growth and progress.

Categories
Daily dose

Myth: Filipinos lack discipline

Three data sets utterly destroy the government’s mantra that Filipinos lack discipline and that this is the reason why COVID-19 cases – despite having the longest lock down in the world, continue to increase by the thousands each day.

A survey by the Institute of Global Health Innovation of the Imperial College London in partnership with YouGov came up with the following figures:

  • 91% wore masks when they were outside
  • 83% washed hands w/ soap & water
  • 77% avoided crowded areas
  • 61% avoided going out in general
  • 70% avoided touching objects in public

Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report (pdf) based on “aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the location history setting” for their Google Account paints a similar picture covering the period of June 2 to July 14:

  • 46% decline in retail & recreation areas, including restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theaters
  • 20% decline in places like grocery markets, food warehouses, farmers markets, specialty food shops, drug stores and pharmacies
  • 25% decline in places like national parks, public beaches, marinas, dog parks, plazas, and public gardens.
  • 56% decline in places like public transport hubs such as subways, bus, and train stations.
  • 44% decline for places of work
  • 23% increase for places of residence. In other words, Filipinos stayed at home.

Marlen V. Ronquillo in his The Manila Times column talks about how a recent survey by the Asian Development Bank ‘shatter the myth that Filipinos are pasaway‘:

63.2% decrease in mobility – Filipinos stayed at home even in the congested areas where at least 10 people are crammed inside a small shanty.

A couple of days ago, Vince Dizon, the so-called ‘testing czar’ regurgitated the myth that ‘discipline’ is the key to beating COVID-19. He casually dismissed testing, contact tracing, strengthening the health care system and using available technology as essential tools against the coronavirus. It is bad enough that up until now, public health experts have taken a back seat in the government’s response against COVID-19, it’s infuriating to hear such ridiculous notions from those who are put in such a position.

I have said it before and will say it again, from the experience of other countries, COVID-19 can be beaten. The struggle only becomes more difficult – at the expense of human lives, when the government itself becomes another enemy in this pandemic.