The World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 last year as infection numbers started to explode across Asia and Europe. Around 4,600 deaths had been officially recorded globally at that time.
Now, the coronavirus has killed more than 2.6 million people and forced unprecedented curbs on movement that have eviscerated economies.
The research and development race to create vaccines would take place at an unprecedented, breakneck pace and today, several shots have been rolled out. More than 300 million vaccine doses have been administered in 140 countries, but because other countries acted with more urgency and resolve than others, inequalities abound. Rich nations have surged ahead with mass vaccination programs while billions in poorer and less capably led nations are still waiting to receive shots.
Vaccinations are offering a ray of hope to the countries that have actually started inoculating citizens with the urgency and massive numbers required to achieve herd immunity, but much of humanity still endures highly restricted lives with no clear path back to normality.
On March 11 2021, the Philippines recorded 3,749 new COVID-19 infections, the highest daily increase in cases in nearly six months. Total confirmed cases increased to 607,048 and deaths are at 12,608, placing the country at the second highest in Southeast Asia. The country’s long-awaited vaccination campaign started on March 1 with the arrival of donated vaccines but with bulk of the deliveries not yet expected for a few more months, Filipinos will have no choice but to hunker down and prepare for more of the same.
Curfews and tightened restrictions are being considered for Metro Manila and other hotspots, eliciting a sense of déjà vu. The situation cannot be good when the police have taken to warning against public displays of affection. Until the vaccines arrive and the shots are finally distributed and deployed to the millions of Filipinos who have been watching the rest of the world with envy, we will have to make do with what we have been doing this past year.
Wear your mask always, wash your hands regularly, observe social distancing, use a face shield, and no PDA.*