What’s the plan?

We start the final month of a difficult year with the encouraging news that at least three pharmaceutical companies have come up with a vaccine against the dreaded coronavirus.

What’s the plan?

Stock markets around the world reflected the hope and relief that a solution to the pandemic now has a timeline. At the very least, governments, businesses, households, and individuals can plan. Life in the future, even if it were still distant, could flow back to normal.

To be sure, this is not an excuse to let our guard down, not even for a minute. Nor is it an excuse to throw better judgment out the window and resume our old ways of going out and socializing. Wearing masks, keeping clean and staying physically apart should not even be legislated—people have to internalize their inherent benefits and abide by them, not because they have to, but they know they need to for their own and others’ sake.

While we all wait for the confirmation of the trials’ success, the mass production of the vaccines, and their transport to our shores, we also wait to hear about the government’s plan for its distribution.

We are aware we cannot buy the required doses for all Filipinos at the same time. We know that there are sectors who, by the nature of their job or condition, need the vaccine more than others. We are also aware that millions of Filipinos cannot afford the buy the vaccines for themselves, while some can very well buy one for their own and their extended families’ use.

President Duterte has made several pronouncements about who he thinks should get the doses first. There are the frontliners who stake their safety every time they go to work, members of the police and the military, the poorest of the poor, the sick and the elderly. He has also said he wants the entire population eventually vaccinated against the virus.

The decision on who should get inoculated first is complex and nuanced; the manner of how to actually carry this decision through, even more difficult.

The best time to plan and to communicate this plan well to everybody is now, when the vaccines still have not arrived. Thus, when they do, there will be no chaos, no wielding of influence, no words and actions that say “my life is more important than yours.”

Knowing our government’s great need for foresight and coordination, however, we the people can keep our officials on their toes by constantly demanding to see a plan based on science, logistics, and common sense. We’re inching our way out of this dark tunnel every day, but the light—or the prospect of light—shouldn’t blind us and render us unable to act sensibly.

Topics: pharmaceutical companies , coronavirus pandemic , vaccine , Rodrigo Duterte
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