PopCom maintains: High mortality rate, slow birth rate due to COVID-19, not vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The higher death rates coupled with the slow birth rate in the country are caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, not the vaccines as some conspiracy theorists suggest, the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) has clarified.
PopCom said in a statement that there were rumors spreading that the COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for the phenomenon, as several anti-vaccine advocates claim that it was a “depopulation” strategy.
But PopCom executive director Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III stressed that it was the disease COVID-19 which pushed deaths higher, starting in 2020 when the pandemic struck the country and when vaccines were not yet available.
“The increase in deaths compared to previous years has been noted since July 2020. Comparing the first six months of 2021 to the same period of 2020, there was an increase of 88,191 deaths,” Perez said on Thursday.
“One can attribute over half of that, or 51%, to COVID-19, and the rest to ischemic heart disease, hypertensive disease and other illnesses — the cases which also went up in that time frame,” he added.
Perez also noted that depopulation claims were based on inaccurate assumptions of the data provided, adding that the word “depopulating” means a negative population change in a specific time frame, like a year-on-year basis. If the Philippine data is to be considered, then the country still had a positive population growth rate of 1.63 percent — slower, but not a negative growth.
Also, he explained that the higher deaths that are not COVID-19-related may be due to the fact that people are wary of going outside their homes, which includes skipping appointments with physicians and medical facilities — resulting into people disregarding their existing health conditions.
“Aside from COVID-19, increasing mortalities due to ischemic heart disease and hypertension may be traced to the increased vulnerability of sick members of the population vis-à-vis their morbid conditions,” Perez said.
“We noted decreased attendances in health centers and doctors’ clinics caused by hesitancy among patients to go to medical facilities which were swamped with COVID-19 cases; increasing barriers to care as one has to obtain a schedule to see a physician; as well as limitations on the side of health providers who were unavailable because of escalating caseloads and illnesses,” he added.
Last December 27, PopCom said that they are expecting that the Philippine population would only increase by around 324,000, which would be the lowest natural increase — or total number of births minus total deaths in a year — since 1946 to 1947.
PopCom said that the lower birth rate may be because Filipinos have exercised prudence in building families, as the current conditions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fit for raising another child. This is contrary to concerns in 2020 when the health crisis reached the country, that the lockdowns may cause a population boom with couples spending more time at home.
In terms of mortality, COVID-19 recently became the third leading cause of death among Filipinos, in data presented by the Philippine Statistics Authority which covers January 2021 to October 2021.
As for vaccines, Perez said that these vials are products of scientific research, and are generally safe and are designed to protect life.
“Vaccines are products of scientific and medical endeavors primarily designed to protect and uphold life, and not cause it harm. Creating them for a purpose other than the good of mankind, as alleged, would be unthinkable and utterly inhumane,” Perez added.
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