How Duque is making a fool out of us

posted April 12, 2021 at 12:20 am
by  Charlie V. Manalo
"Where in the world is he getting his figures?"


The past few days, the group chats of which I am a member have been flooded with debates on the ivermectin issue. While the pros outnumber those who oppose the controversial drug, the antis still would not give in even if they could not come up with any categorical answers to two major concerns I have raised – the alleged conflict of interest of ivermectin oppositor, Dr. Edsel Salvana, and the Department of Health’s seeming bias in favor of a very expensive (or highly-overpriced) drug, Remdesivir, which the agency appears to be endorsing for treatment for COVID-19 patients.

No one among those opposing ivermectin in our chat groups would confirm nor deny that Salvana, a member of the National Health Institute – University of the Philippines which was commissioned by the DoH to conduct a study on Ivermectin and which rejected the drug, is supposedly a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of several giant pharmaceuticals, including Merck, the original manufacturer of ivermectin, the patent of which has long expired.

As we all know, Merck is now pushing for an anti-COVID-19 drug, Molnupiravir. It’s a simple one plus one here. If Salvana is indeed a spokesman for Merck and given Merck’s current status, how could we expect a fair and honest assessment from Salvana regarding ivermectin?

On the second issue. The World Health Organization has recommended against the use of Remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19 patients. And yet, the DoH, led by Secretary Francisco Duque, seems to be insisting on its use.

What’s the catch? According to reports, Remdesivir only costs around P589 in India, but is being dispensed to patients in the Philippines at a staggering cost of P15,000 to P28,000 per vial, given twice a day for 10 days, or for a low of P300,000 to a high of P560,000 per patient, chargeable to PhilHealth. And who heads PhilHealth?

You guessed right. Duque sits as the chair of the said government-owned and controlled corporation.

A few days ago, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor and 1-Pacman Rep. Eric Pineda bared they were seeking a congressional probe regarding the DoH and the Food and Drug Administration’s refusal to allow the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 (Although a couple of days back, FDA granted a compassionate permit to a hospital for its use, which is still much short of the emergency use authorization people are clamoring, just like what it granted to Remdesivir).

So, while they are at it, maybe Defensor and Pineda could take a look why Duque has allowed the use of Remdesivir, even going against the recommendation of the WHO.

Who are the importers of Remdesivir, who dictate its price, and why does Duque seem to be pushing it?

And then again, maybe they could include in their investigation, Duque’s amazing, if not magical report on the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Around July last year, Deputy Majority Leader, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo questioned the complicated manner by which the DoH presents its figures concerning the number of COVID-19 cases.

Back then, Arroyo noted that that the DOH website, it clearly stated that the total active COVID-19 cases in the country as of July 21, stands at 70,764, the active cases at 45,646 as there have been 23,81 recoveries and 1,837 deaths to date.

However, Arroyo said that if you will let the computer cursor hover above the entry for positivity rate which stands at 8.6 percent, a figure stating there are already 94,919 positive individuals will appear, or a difference of 24,155 cases. And I have personally checked on that to validate Arroyo’s claim.

And it was clearly stated then, positive individuals and not positive tests.

Having been exposed, the DoH had since changed its presentation. But this time, the effort to fool us is more glaring.

In its daily update, the DoH claims that as of April 10, 2021, there are 190,245 active cases of which 98.9 percent are mild and asymptomatic and 0.04 percent are critical; 0.05 percent severe; and 0.26 percent are moderate. Thus, at the most, only 0.35 percent of the 190,245 cases will require hospitalization. Or if the moderate case won’t need to be hospitalized, then that leaves us only with 0.09 percent needing hospital treatment.

Also, it states that only 86 percent of the 700 ICU beds in the National Capital Region are in use; 69 percent of the 3,800 isolation beds in NCR are in use; 58 percent of the 2,200 ward beds are in use; and, 59 percent of the 800 ventilators are in use.

Now, I won’t claim to be a mathematical genius as I have given up on cracking Fermat’s Last Theorem a long time ago, but I am certainly not as dumb as the lady government official who said that 40 times 4 is 1,600.

So, let’s now make the computation. 0.04 percent of 190,245 cases is only about 76 patients. 0.05 percent is equivalent to about 95 patients. And 0.26 percent runs to about 494. Thus assuming all those, which is about 665 patients, would be needing hospitalization, even the 700 ICU beds would be more than enough. So, why are the hospitals rejecting patients saying they have now been overwhelmed by the number of cases?

A former journalist, Lailee Parreno, died isolating himself inside his SUV after being rejected by hospitals who claimed they were filled more than their capacity.

Even the number of cases is confusing. According to the DoH, we have 12,674 new cases based on reports culled from April 9 testing which yielded the following results: Of the 40,868 tested, 20.7 percent came out positive.

Well, Mr. Duque, 20.7 percent of 40,868 is only 8,459. Where in the world are you getting your figures?

Congressmen Defensor and Pineda, please help us unravel the truth regarding the real score on this pandemic. Please compel Duque to explain his apparent preference for the expensive (or highly-overpriced Remdesivir), and the way he is misleading the people on his magical COVID numbers.

He has been fooling us for the longest time.

Topics: Charlie Manalo , Dr. Edsel Salvana , Department of Health , DOH , COVID-19 , Ivermectin , Merck
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