An unbelievable vaccine tale

Posted January 6, 2021

“The Philippine COVID-19 vaccine story is getting to be both a tragedy and a comedy”, said Ben Punongbayan, Chairman and Founder of Buklod, a national political party.

According to Punongbayan, it is a tragedy because up until now—except for a very few doses to be delivered in April or May 2021—the country still does not know from where and when we will get enough vaccines to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19. This late procurement clearly means that the country will continue to lose many more lives and experience much longer economic difficulties.

Punongbayan said it is also a comedy because, as it turned out, the country had indeed already received some vaccines and that the government does know where they came from. Some of the recipients of the vaccines—members of the Presidential Security Guard Group (PSG)—had already inoculated themselves without any assistance from health professionals, based on news stories.

The tragedy is real; but the comedy is ludicrous, if not tearful. Sad to say, the various government officials telling the convoluted tale with a straight face is wittingly insulting the intelligence of the Filipino people. They might have been carried away by their knowledge that a lot of Filipinos are mentally stunted because of lack of adequate nutrition, Punongbayan quipped.

Be that as it may. Since the comedy tale if improbable, the fact that vaccines were received and used by the PSG draws several observations.

First, Punongbayan said, there was a deliberate attempt to hide the receipt and use of the vaccines. But why? The government owes the Filipino people a good explanation, or at least a formal investigation must be conducted and concluded quickly. Is this a case of giving high priority to government officials by giving them COVID-19 protection ahead of everybody else…or are the PSG soldiers being used as guinea pigs?

Secondly, clearly the vaccines were used without the required approval by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration. It then follows that those involved in procuring and using the vaccines must be brought before the courts of law. This is a serious case of the enforcer of the law itself violating the law. This clearly an extra judicial vaccine, he went on.

Thirdly, the government disregarded and disrespected the priority list for vaccination that it itself has drawn up. The first in that list are the frontline health workers who are directly and bravely risking their lives in treating the COVID-infected patients.

Finally, the government losses further credibility in its vaccination program having suffered from the past Dengvaxia mess, he noted.

One cannot help but feel helpless and hopeless with this development—which again is devoid of human decency—coming in the midst of many bad things already besieging our country. But, on the other hand, maybe this tells us pleadingly that we need to work many times harder to change things for the better.

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