Everybody is waiting for the vaccine to finally be released. I am practicing my French since I miss my classes already and the title here simply means Vaccines –WHERE ARE YOU?
In a latest report on the development of vaccines, it shows University of Oxford/Astra Zeneca leading in the preparation of the vaccine (guardian.com). It was delayed (it was halted in early September) because of one human trial who encountered problems. However, in a latest report last October 23, 2020 in astrazeneca.com, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the resumption in the United States since the trials in other countries had also resumed in the past weeks. It was concluded that this one human trial who developed a spinal-cord injury is not vaccine-related.
There are more than 170 teams who are trying to develop a vaccine that is safe and will pass the standards of the Food and Drug Administration but only 11 teams are on Phase 3 – the next stage of which is for approval for the use of vaccines. And leading the list is University of Oxford/Astra Zeneca followed by the team of Wuhan Institute of Biological Research/Sinopharm.
These developers of the vaccines are trying to race against time and hoping that the vaccine can be developed in a year to one and half years’ time. Vaccines normally require years of testing and additional time to produce at scale, but scientists are hoping to develop a coronavirus vaccine within 12 to 18 months from date of inception.
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not expect the vaccines for distribution worldwide until mid-2021 (guardian.com dated October 23, 2020). If this is true, then we have to wait for the vaccines until June of 2021. But then it could also be longer than that since the developers
would have to take care of their country first.
While waiting for the vaccines we also need to survive. We cannot forever be on lockdown every now and then. What do we do since our GDP is declining and businesses are in the downturn? Everybody is looking forward when the real normal will be back or when the vaccine for Covid19 will be finally approved and released. But much has to be done to reverse the downturn until the vaccine will be made available.
For one, government health measures should be in place at the same time support measures for businesses especially the small entities which are the source of employment that helped in the reduction of poverty. Health measures means more facilities and improving the welfare of our health line workers. People are scared to go out because when they get sick, there are not enough hospitals they can go to and not enough Covid19 facilities to take care of the victims of such virus.
But life has to go on – we have to work and businesses has to open or it will bleed itself to death. We can contribute to the gradual revival of the economy if we just have to do our part of wearing face masks and shields, observing social distancing, constant hand washing be it soap or alcohol – this can sound repetitive – but we have to, since people have to be reminded constantly.
Government support for businesses is badly needed when businesses especially the non- essential ones are closing left and right. “Similarly, financial support to affected firms, especially small and medium enterprises, to prevent job losses and bankruptcy, can help ensure that the recent shocks do not cause permanent damage to the country’s productive capacity and human capital,” said Achim Fock, World Bank Acting Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand quoted in a World Bank press release dated June 9, 2020 entitled – Philippines: Social Assistance to Poor Households, Support forSmall Enterprises Key to Broad-Based Recovery.
In the same press release, Rong Qian, World Bank Senior Economist, said the country’s digital infrastructure will play a critical role in its economic recovery. With people mostly staying in their homes in the past months, one important lesson we learned is the need for government to upgrade the country’s internet infrastructures. We ranked 119th with a 16.89 mbps average internet speed for downloads against an average of 35.96 mbps globally (source: Speedtest Global Index September 2020).
Government, businesses and citizens should see this as a wake-up call to improve on digital adoption. This pandemic opened our eyes that in order for the country to move forward we have no choice but a digital transformation in all aspects of society.
Vaccines may not readily available but we can help lift the country from the doldrums of a sluggish economy by starting to implement strategies in all these areas – health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), economic and digital. We are all in these together because we will all reap the benefits if we do what needs to be done.
(Wilma Miranda is a Managing Partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs, and Chair of the Media Affairs Committee of FINEX, Treasurer of Negros Outsourcing Services, Inc., and member of the Board of Directors of KPS Outsourcing, Inc. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.)