Beyond tunnel’s end

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Even now, much of the populace are eagerly awaiting the proverbial light at tunnel’s end. Far too long have we been enduring, nay surviving, the pandemic onslaught which may well be the century’s scourge of a lifetime. Far too long have we strived hard and fast for us to get past this health crisis that has brought our sullied knees down on both limbs, the mind in endless anguish, the heart in constant race that a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance would get hit.

All this time, while covid cases have strangely been on a roller-coaster ride — down yesterday to about 3,000 nationwide, 7,000 the next day — we have patiently waited it out, most of the time right on the chin, simply because the touted vaccine hardly fit our ideal entry into the New Normal.

Lo and take a listen, just the other day, the World Health Organization in a somewhat belated, too late the hero kind of an announcement, announced that the SV vax is given the emergency use authority. What, after much of the populace have been jabbed by this Chinese wonder drug since the national rollout begun. What, after we have ourselves braved through two vax sked, endured the noonday heat, and trudged up the hall just to bet it pricked into willing arms.

Oh well, better something than nothing. As repeatedly implored by our sage of a barber, we’re just lucky. Here’s a wonder drug at an efficacy rate of 50.04%. Jab the two doses and that’s a hefty 100.08% — decidedly higher than the touted 90% plus that the Wild, Wild West can offer. Take a bow, said he, at least you’re now doubly protected, even as SCs our age have to trekked on all fours all the way to where they’d be inoculated. Take a bow, said he, and get ready to see the world.

Seeing the world seems not possible, just as yet. Five hundred compatriots returning to overseas work this week had to wait it out at airport floors as OWWA and DOLE officials took turns to assure the MidEast countries the SV drug is just as effective as its Western counterpart. Tricky negotiation that one, since the pre-ordained word is any vax other than that. Thorny days ahead, as airlines have been checking vax cards of outbound Filipinos racing to get jobs that would dis-materialize any hour.

That’s the national profile developing these days, enough for the country’s virus fighters — including our very own Mayor Benjie — to belly-ache once more that we’ve got everything but speed in getting the process done. A threatening typhoon down under just served as basis for the vax re-set. Besides, the vax team doing the jabs just had to take a breather, to get body energy get going, to get minds concentrated on the task, and, why not, just to have a leisurely day off.

About the only thing that days off are off the radar is the national debt. Last heard, it stands out at P13 trillion, running up to the last minute. That means several generation of Filipinos would have to shell out the last of the Mohican currency eligible for the hock just to pay the price. Which makes us wonder out loud, where the heck did P13 trillion go, at a time when the nation couldn’t even get vaccine purchase settled up. These delayed arrivals are surely arising from a basic need: no down payment, no entry.

For localities to make “angat”, they’d need even a pittance of that huge debt to get it past one’s height. To be “ingat” while doing “angat”, all folks — young and once young — to mind their MHS (minimum health standards) while worrying about the next possible meal. To be “dapat” in being “ingat” while on the “angat”, everyone should worry about the next guy. Friend or not, his safety is on your conscience. If you’re not self-protected, if you’re not vaxed on the 2-dose requirement, you’re simply taking a bum of a choice.

By and large, whether nationally or locally, the common plaint has been the slow, too slow a pace in the overall vaccination effort, not to mention reports of vaccine slot scams in certain places. The hesitancy to be vaccinated appears to be breaking down especially among the elderlies who are second in line, a level of attitude discernible in the early weeks of the jabbing effort.

Just how efficacious the vaccines are is a source of wonder. Health and safety regulators have since determined, from the WHO authorities to even the CDC officials whose standard response to the query is classic. “The most effective vaccines are those at hand.”

Among all of us wanting to get into a level of safety not just for ourselves, not just for our loved ones, but for everyone else, there is but a singular choice. Never a chance should a life be lived. At day’s end, as the tunnel looms from afar, the proverbial light is well-within flickering sight. Beyond it is yet another glimpse of another episode in this miserable segment of a lifetime.

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