Omicron will influence 2022 election campaign, results
The rock-dropping Delta infections in the country are being sideswiped today by new fears of a coming “fourth wave” of COVID-19 next year. This time by multiple-spiked and ten times more infectious Omicron variant with 32 mutations against Delta’s 7, that spread exponentially in South Africa and has entered nearby Hong Kong, Malaysia and Japan. Health Secretary Francisco Duque says it is only a matter of time that Omicron will enter the country. Most likely, it will arrive ahead of the May 9 elections, about 155 days away.
But the country is better prepared today against this variant, following its experiences on the Alpha, Beta and Delta waves. COVIDVAX.LIVE said the government has administered 96 million vaccine doses or 86.4 percent of our total population of 111,050,000. Those fully vaccinated (two doses) stands at 38,700,000 persons, or 34.76 percent of the total population. The number of booster inoculations is also increasing. And unlike last year, vaccinees can even choose their preferred brands because of government’s huge supplies.
In Metro Manila, average new COVID-19 cases are now at 112 from 370 same period last year. R-naught (reproduction number) also dropped from 0.92 to present 0.32 . Daily attack rate (infection rate) dipped from 2.61 last year to only 0.79 this year while positivity rate is down to 1.1 percent compared to 3.7 percent last year.
These indicate that the administration’s pandemic response has successfully controlled the much-dreaded Delta after over four months that started in July. Today, the Department of Health has declared that the whole country is now at “minimal risk” for COVID-19 while NCR is at “low risk’.
But in nearby Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and now Laos, Delta is still wreaking havoc. And to them, the threat of a “highly infectious” Omicron while battling Delta is just too much. Today, the world awaits the “official clinical analysis” of hospitalized patients from Gauteng, South Africa. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom reported 246 confirmed cases but are likely more than 1,000 cases already.
Here, I believe that the highly infectious Omicron variant will have a direct effect on the coming political campaign and its results. Even if found “milder” or deadlier than Delta, disruptions in our daily life will happen. Probably, we will see a repeat of lockdowns, return of face shields/masks and closed businesses due to higher alert levels next year. And this means limited campaigns, political rallies and stricter health protocols for candidates and supporters.
If Omicron is milder, controllable variant, the administration candidates especially the incumbent LGU mayors will have the advantage, being at the forefront of ayuda, relief and successful vaccinations of their citizen-voters. But if Omicron becomes deadlier than Delta, then the challenged government’s pandemic response becomes an election issue. This administration’s succeeding moves will be under microscopic scrutiny by voters. If cases zoom up again because of Omicron and hospitals are overwhelmed, then the opposition candidates in both national and local elections will have a better chance of winning.
At this point, It is too dangerous for government or scientists to minimize the threats of Omicron. US top COVID-19 expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says “it doesn’t look like there is a great degree of severity to it”. Also, South African scientists maintained that Omicron causes only mild illness and accuses the world of over-reaction in closing their borders. These statements may give our people a “false sense of security”.
Right now, everybody is watching how Omicron will perform in the United Kingdom, where 70 percent of its population are fully vaccinated. And as a precaution, UK PM Boris Johnson’s government has already required face masks in shops and public transport until the New Year.
If and when Omicron arrives here, it is inevitable that we will again return to strict or very strict precautionary measures. Yes, It will be hard, but unlike last year, we now have available over the counter anti-COVID drugs to avoid hospitalization and death. Also, our health care system is much now better following its Alpha, Beta and Delta experiences. We all must hope for the best.
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