How smart people think

"Here’s an article about Israel that has been circulating online."


I came across an article online that Filipinos should seriously consider when we go to the polls next year to elect our national and local leaders:

“Israel has once again shown countries how clever leaders think in the second and third order” (thinking beyond the obvious).

“Last week, Israel became the first country to inoculate its entire adult population over the age of 18. Yesterday, all schools and colleges were opened and mask requirements were removed across the country (barring a few congested public places).

“Here’s how this remarkable country did it.

“Israel leaders are well educated and many of them have advanced degrees in science and medicine. Their Prime Minister graduated at the top of his class at MIT and started but did not finish a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) at Harvard.

“They realized at the onset of the pandemic last year that the only way to beat a virus was through herd immunity, and that vaccination was key to expediting this process. They immediately zeroed in two companies that were ahead of the pack in vaccine development - Pfizer and Moderna. The Israeli PM immediately developed a personal friendship with the CEOs of these companies using his Harvard and MIT connections.

“As soon as Pfizer was successful in the Phase 3 trials Israel made a deal with Pfizer to pick up their first 3 million doses for twice the price ($30 per dose) of what Pfizer was eventually aiming to sell the vaccine. Israel also agreed to provide Pfizer with data on the efficacy of the vaccine on its population. By November 2020, Israel had already acquired the vaccine it required to immunize its people.

“The Israel PM asked two weeks ago why they agreed to pay $15 per dose extra, and his response was classic second- order thinking. He said that just in pure economic numbers, the total amount they overpaid was a miniscule fraction of what it costs to lockdown the country. This is not counting the extra medical costs of COVID-19 and the incalculable price of losing a loved one. The economic loss from just three days of its own was more than the overpayment for all the vaccines they bought. 

“This is how smart people think!”

It may be argued that Israel only has a 9.2 million population, smaller than the population of Metro Manila, and it’s so easy to have its entire population vaccinated. But, that’s not the point of this report. Rather, the whole point is that the national leaders of Israel used their coconut in securing the vaccines to achieve what is called herd immunity for the nation.

My gulay, I hate to say this but the government has even become a challenge for the private sector to procure on their own vaccines already approved by the Food and Drug Administration of vaccines already granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. So far, the FDA has granted this EUA only to PFizer BioNtech,Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinovac CoronaVac, Moderna from the United States and Gamaleya Sputnik V!

Instead of encouraging the private sector to procure vaccines on their own, 50 percent of which should be donated to their workers and employees, government required a tripartite agreement with the Department of Health which has further slowed down President Duterte’s target of achieving the inoculation of 60-to-70 percent of the population at the soonest possible time. 

Up to this date only a little above 300,000 people have been fully vaccinated. 

If one must point the finger of blame on anybody or anything, it’s the government that has become the problem.

According to a former health expert of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases, at the rate the vaccine rollout is going, it might take the government five years to achieve that herd immunity goal. To me, the blame is on the government for lack of transparency, and for those in charge not thinking out of the box, especially not smart like these national leaders of Israel.

President Duterte has downgraded the number of those who would get vaccinated this year from 70 million Filipino to 50 million to less than half of the entire population of the country of 110 million. This in itself is an admission that it will take the country beyond the end of the year to achieve herd immunity. Achieving it this year has become an impossible dream.

* * *

I was not surprised when it was announced that President Duterte had decided to back out from his challenge to debate retired Senior Justice of Supreme Court Antonio Carpio. This move was supposedly upon the advice of members of the Cabinet. 

It would be a no-win situation on the part of Duterte. In effect, he would argue on behalf of China, and even defend it with its continued incursion of the West Philippine Sea and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). By defending the bullying tactic of China, the President of the Philippines would in effect be betraying the country.

The President actually committed a big mistake when he issued the challenge to debate with Carpio on the West Philippine Sea issue and on China’s frequent incursion into disputed waters. Clearly, Duterte failed to realize that if the debate went on he would become China President Xi Jinping’s spokesman. 

Santa Banana, can you imagine a Philippine President espousing China’s expansionist policies? Thus, it was good that Duterte backed out of the debate.

Clearly, Duterte failed to realize the implications of that failed debate.

That should be a lesson for him about opening his big mouth. By issuing that challenge on Carpio to debate, Duterte failed to realize that he was digging for himself a hole of his own making. Can you imagine what the majority of the Filipino nation would think of their President when defending and espousing China’s policies?

As for Duterte’s offer that presidential spokesman Harry Roque would take his place, Carpio should do well not to accept, not because Roque is a mere spokesman of the President, but Roque has nothing to do with the country’s foreign policies. It would be an exercise in futility.

I cannot end this piece without commending Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario for coming out with their criticisms against China’s expansionist policy. In a democracy like the Philippines, there’s a need for dissent to make it really work. In the absence of dissent, there can only be tyranny. 

They are patriots in the real sense of the word. 

Topics: Emil Jurado , Israel , COVID-19 pandemic , herd immunity , COVID-19 vaccine , Pfizer , Moderna , President Rodrigo Duterte , Antonio Carpio , West Philippine Sea , Exclusive Economic Zone , EEZ
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