Deliverance from COVID-19 – not until 2022?
The world was besieged by the coronavirus for practically the entire 2020, and world economies have been devastated by lockdowns of varying degrees, with the all-too-anticlimactic outcomes of the rich getting by and the poor struggling over losses of opportunities, incomes, and, for some, hope.
We have already seen the short-term effects of the pandemic with the ever-growing grim statistics of deaths, infections, hospitalizations, job losses, battered economies, and mobility restrictions. We have also witnessed surreal landscapes of empty campuses, barricaded roads, and closed-down business establishments. Years or decades from now, we could be facing the long-term backlash of this pandemic, such as mental and physical health complications. But the world is too preoccupied with present-day horrors, so the anxieties of tomorrow are set aside—for now.
Thus, there has been global excitement over encouraging news of COVID-19 vaccines that are in various states of readiness and/or implementation in some parts of the world. These vaccines are seen to be the silver bullet that will take down the virus for good. People who have been holed up in their homes for months and months must be conjuring images of vaccines knocking at their gates, bringing with them the hopes of a return to our pre-pandemic lives, and promising the beginning of what we could call the great reset—back to in-person classes, restriction-free travels, physical meet-ups sans face masks and social distancing, videoke singing with wanton abandon. Yes, back to our old ways without the hassles and fears of COVID-19.
Yet, this euphoria over vaccines has been tempered by the reality that vaccines are always a not-so-cheap endeavor, and purchasing them will ultimately favor the haves. Thus, a Third World country like ours may not be among the first to secure vaccines for 100-plus-million Filipinos.
Health authorities have in fact warned the world that vaccines won’t get us out of our COVID-19 predicament in 2021. And even getting vaccinated won’t give a person the security to ditch the face mask yet. There are many considerations and questions that will remain once a person is immunized, so health authorities are extra-cautious not to raise people’s hopes unnecessarily despite the impending arrival of vaccines.
So, for many of us, the promise of the great reset may for the meantime be the great letdown. There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic lifestyle in 2021. The safe bet is 2022. This new normal will still be with us for a long while.
JAMES M. FAJARITO, PhD
Angeles City, Pampanga.
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