Now, a bit of good news

"We have been forgiving as we have been resilient in more ways than one."


Somehow, there is a bit of good news 76 days after ECQ. But first we have to suspend any talk of DoH fudging the numbers of the most basic COVID-19 metrics (test, isolate, treat, trace, isolate, protect) even if the agency has been ingenuously changing the said metrics as we graduated from ECQ to MECQ, and now to GCQ. Also, we have to hold our breath about reports of corruption across the board: from the listing of beneficiaries of the social amelioration fund to the giving of much needed food and related items to the poorest of the poor to the hiring of so-called frontliners including contact tracers to the procurement of essential medical equipments and the reimbursements related to COVID- 19 hospital expenses and even the listing of projects and release of funds covered under the Bayanihan-Heal-As-One Act. No matter how despicable these practices may be, this is not the time to indulge in rounds of inquiries and blame (or even flame) throwing. As Senator Ping Lacson so correctly noted, there will be a time of reckoning. Let’s give ourselves time to focus on the more essential things to save lives, save jobs and save the economy.

In this regard, we have to commend our people for keeping up with the government imposed protocols despite their fears, apprehensions and difficulties. Unlike in the US and other countries, we have generally submitted to the injunction as we threw ourselves to the tender mercies of government. Although there were cries of favoritism and rank pulling as far as testing, provisions of assistance and adherence to the protocols are concerned, the howls have been few and far between. We have allowed and taken President Duterte’s assumption of responsibility on those matters which really got some kind of an uproar like the Pimentel going around early on, the Sinas Mananita session and lately, the DoH/PS/PhilHealth overpricing caper and Health Secretary Duque’s “second wave” gaffe.

We have been forgiving as we have been resilient in more ways than one.

That distinct character, that almost stoic response to an outbreak is the foremost good news. In other times and climes what we have been subjected to in just a little over two months of a lock down would have engendered “blood in the streets”, as it were. That distinct character, that almost stoic response to an outbreak is the foremost good news.

But wait, we have at least two other developments out of this global outbreak deserving

of mention as part of the emerging pieces of good news, here and abroad, published in

the MIT Technological Review, a publication dedicated to development in science and technology, These developments give us hope that somehow, apart from surviving, we will emerge from this pandemic with better products and services to assist us in getting back on track. First, the possibility of having an anti-COVID-19 vaccine before the year ends written by Antonio Regalado and second, the ongoing shopping revolution written by Will Douglas Heaven. Here are notes on the articles written by Regalado and Heaven:

On the vaccine. “The moonshot program to come up with a vaccine against covid-19 is advancing faster than anyone could have hoped. At least four have been shown to protect monkeys, and three of those are already being given to brave human volunteers. The aim is a vaccine by January, and money is no object. It’s all good news. But the next hurdle is the biggest one: proving that a vaccine candidate actually works.”

“Researchers will launch several huge efficacy studies involving thousands of volunteers this summer. This is going to be the most costly part of testing a vaccine, and also the hardest to speed up. That’s because researchers will have to wait for people in the study to get accidentally infected with the virus, and then check how often those given the vaccine get sick.”

“With COVID-19 getting beaten back in cities like New York, successful efforts to suppress the disease could perversely make it harder to test a vaccine. The irony is that the process will go faster if the COVID-19 outbreak keeps flaring up. There are also warnings that even if everything goes perfectly and we find a vaccine (or vaccines) in an unprecedentedly short timeframe, there could be delays in manufacturing it at scale, and persuading enough people to get the shot.”

On The Tech Revolution coming to the local store: “Big online stores like Amazon and Ocado are based around vast automated warehouses. Robots keep costs down and make order fulfillment quicker and more accurate. Now, given a series of lockdowns that could go on for months or even years, this kind of automation could be key if smaller retailers are to survive. The way we shop is changing: the future of retail automation is smaller, closer to home, and more flexible.”

“According to the US Department of Commerce, retail sales in the US fell by 16.4% last month—the worst drop since reporting began in 1992. Many physical stores have closed. But it’s not all bad news. Others are seeing their online business explode and finding it hard to meet demand. The biggest shift is in groceries. “It’s as if e-commerce jumped ahead five years,” says Vince Martinelli, CEO of Right Hand Robotics, a US firm that installs robotic arms.”

“Smaller retailers are benefiting from the way the big guns have changed the field in recent years, operating vast out-of-town fulfillment centers filled with thousands of robots, managed by a central AI.”

It is clear that these twin developments will have a heavy impact on the very measures we will now have to work on as we transit to our New Normal world.

Topics: Jonathan Dela Cruz , general community quarantine , GCQ , Department of Health , DOH , Health Secretary Duque , coronavirus disease 2019 , COVID-19
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