Doctor suggests six urgent steps that may help turn health crisis around
I just read the report on rapidly developing “escape mutations” of the novel coronavirus, and tried to trace the development of the currently identified variants.
And it occurred to me that they all started in countries with massive vaccination clinical trials (the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil).
Now, additional escape mutations have been identified in countries like the United States after mass vaccination.
Just a coincidence? Or could the mass vaccination be paradoxically triggering the propagation of the virus? Hopefully not.
With a 400-percent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, we definitely have to pause and rethink our situation.
I propose the following steps that may help us turn this medical crisis around, particularly in hotbed areas.
At the rate escape mutations are developing, the current vaccines may no longer be effective in a few months, and it would require an urgent round of booster doses plus additional shots perhaps every three to six months to cover for the variants that could number in the hundreds within months.
The virus seems capable of mutating every 24-48 hours. It’s like shooting at a moving target, and as we hit one, it divides and creates new variants.
It’s time we recalibrated our anti-Covid strategy.
1. We should urgently shift from a vaccine-centric strategy to a more holistic multipronged approach. Vaccines are the least we need in Metro Manila and other hotbed areas.
2. Suspend vaccination for now and go full-blast with measures to control community transmission. Continuing the vaccination will only fuel the transmission and promote more mutations and resistance to vaccination.
3. Proceed with mass vaccination only in areas with controlled and stable community transmission.
20-40 age group
4. Withhold vaccination of the 20 to 40 year olds to reduce the rate of developing vaccine resistance. Vaccinating them will only create more breeding grounds for virus mutation and resistance development.
Besides, the risk of dying from COVID in the 20-40 age group is extremely low and just slightly higher than the risk of dying from vaccination-related adverse reactions.
It’s better to allow their system to develop natural, rather than vaccine-generated, immunity that can potentially weaken their innate immunity.
Let’s reserve the vaccination for the elderly, and other high-risk persons whose immune systems are no longer as healthy and reactive as the young adults’.
5. Stop buying more vaccines for the next six months and reallocate the money to buy other immune-system- boosting agents like ivermectin, vitamins D and C, zinc, virgin coconut oil, and melatonin which should be provided for free in hotbed areas.
Face masks and shields should also be distributed for free in indigent barangays.
The government can invoke its police power and take over the manufacture of these products during this critical period. USP-grade ivermectin is not even available. The government should make emergency importation of this product, which can be easily procured from neighboring countries.
6. Agility in adapting and adjusting to prevailing circumstances is paramount.
Our previous plans on mass vaccination may not be suitable for now. It’s an excellent tool for prevention of future transmission, but is potentially disastrous in the current situation when community transmission is uncontrolled.
This virus is making us think within the box as it slyly operates outside the box. It’s time we stopped being outsmarted by it.
With God’s mercy and grace, we can lick this virus for good. We just need to humble ourselves and stop believing we can solve this pandemic crisis on our own.
We need to unite, put our best ideas together, and swallow our pride if we want to win this crucial war against this unseen enemy.
Our window for survival is still very good, but quickly narrowing. It’s time to fight the war wisely, and with the right weapons.
God bless us all.
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Dr. Rafael Castillo writes a weekly column in Inquirer Lifestyle’s Wellness page.
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