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Goodbye, tragic 2021; Hello “hopeful” 2022

/ 04:00 AM December 28, 2021

The year 2021 was very sad and unfortunate for all of us, mainly because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority recorded 27,967 COVID-19 deaths, at the time exacerbated by the uncontrolled infection of the Wuhan and Alpha variants, and the chaotic “trial and error” medical treatment of cases.

The scourge continued in February-April-May-June driven by the Beta variant and followed by the more deadly and highly infectious Delta variant beginning August-September-October-November. These are several months of terror, helplessness and confusion

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It was only on February 28 when hope arrived with initial 600,000 Sinovac doses from China triggering vaccinations at PGH immediately. Today, there are 47.169 million fully vaccinated Filipinos, or 43 percent of adult population, and at least 1.376 million people with booster shots. NCR has achieved “population protection”.

Were it not for these vaccines, the death toll would have trebled or even bigger. To date, we have 23,244 pandemic deaths only, about 4,000 fewer than in 2020. Recent numbers are going down with recent running 7-day average of only 2 deaths in Metro Manila compared to nearly 60 deaths average in June.

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While we lost many friends, relatives, front liners, and famous personalities, statistics indicate that our nation has “controlled and defeated” the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and the recent Delta variants of COVID-19. While there are four confirmed Omicron variant cases as of Monday (Dec. 27), we are now in a better position to confront it. There are now available effective and clinically tested anti-COVID-19 pills such as Merck’s Molnupiravir, Pfizer’s Paxlovid and anti-depressant drug Fluvoxamine. And the more I feel positive, I cannot help but sadly remember and feel sorry for those who perished and did not benefit from all these new lifesaving treatments.

Aside from the pandemic, natural disasters are deadlier this year. I commiserate with the victims of Tropical Storm Maring (Kompasu) that hit Cagayan and Northern Luzon in October, killing 43 people with 17 others missing. But Typhoon Odette (Rai) is the main killer, destroying houses and tourism in Northern Mindanao, Central Visayas and Palawan. Everyone mistook it as just another typhoon, but before making landfall, it turned into a category-5 supertyphoon over Siargao, Dinagat Islands, Surigao City, Cagayan de Oro, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Occidental and Palawan. Latest reports say 401 people are confirmed dead with 60 others missing. About 13 million Filipinos are directly affected by this continuing disaster that also shattered Yuletide celebrations.

Unforgettable also was the July 4 crash of Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft of the Philippine Air Force in Jolo Airport in Sulu. Fifty soldiers in the plane and three people on the ground were killed in this deadliest aviation accident in Philippine military history. In September the AFP said there was “no single attributable cause” for that crash.

Meanwhile, the economy continues to struggle this year after that negative 17 GDP contraction in 2020. We began at negative 3.9 in January but still improving. But the effect on jobs is truly disheartening. In September this year, the unemployment rate hit a historic 8.9 percent, leaving around 4.25 million Filipinos jobless.

Of course, there are great sports news this year. These include Hidilyn Diaz’s Olympic gold medal that netted her P33.5M in cash and P18-M in incentives, the two silver medalists woman featherweight boxer Nesthy Petecio and men’s flyweight Carlo Paalam, and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial, middleweight boxer. In golf, Fil-Japanese Ms Yuka Saso won the US Women’s Open champion.

Overall, we all had a very hard time but we should feel blessed and very lucky.

We are the 13th most populous nation in the world with our 111.7 million people, but in terms of death from the pandemic, we are only at number 21 with 51,211 deaths, way better than Indonesia, UK, Italy, France, Germany, USA, Russia, and Mexico.

With all COVID-19 numbers dropping, and available anti-COVID pills, the government will have single “focus” and control” over the new Omicron variant, giving hope for a better and faster road “back to normal” in the new year 2022.

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