THE past week, especially the other day when the number of new Covid-19 cases hit a record high of 18,332, I felt a bit panicky: Is Covid-19 overwhelming us?
Indeed, in the past months, the country’s slot in worldometers.info/coronavirus’ statistics had been worsening. Its ranking in the Worldometers listing of 222 countries had slowly dropped in the last two months from the 25th slot (No. 1, the US with the largest number of cases) to the 21st the other day.
However, a rational way to determine how bad the situation here is would be to compare our pandemic stats with those of others. The caveat though is that we have the 13th largest population in the world, and therefore, we should be in the top slots of Covid stats if unadjusted for population.
My tabulation is in the accompanying table.
The 18,332 spike (for August 23) is indeed alarming. That’s the 10th largest reported new cases that day in the Worldometer’s listing. But then I’m glad I’m not in the US, which had 111,134 cases that day. Can you believe that? With 50 percent of its citizens vaccinated compared to our 12 percent, the US’ number of new cases is still six times more than ours.
We rank 22nd in active cases (130,350). But before believing opposition claims that this administration’s handling of the pandemic has been an “epic failure” (as a dour-looking columnist in this paper often claims), the most developed countries in the world are in much worse shape, among them the US, France, the UK, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, and in our part of the world, Indonesia. Adjust that figure for population, and we’re doing very, very well: ranked in the 127th slot with only 16,699 cases for every 1 million population.
In terms of total deaths, we’re at the 23rd slot with 31,961. Adjust that for population though and we’re ranked way, way down, at the 118th slot with just 287 deaths per 1 million population.
Check out the tables here to see how the Philippines fares in the other measures of how badly Covid-19 hit us, and you’ll agree with my conclusion. We’re not doing spectacularly of course. But we’re not doing badly at all.
What gives me optimism though are the following: First, our country’s active cases as a percentage of total cases is 7 percent, which is very low, compared to the double-digit rates for many of the developed countries such as the UK and the US, which have 20 percent, as well as Japan and Malaysia, both with 17 percent.
Second, our mortality rate (i.e., deaths per case) at 1.7 percent is lower than the world’s 2.1 percent and much better than for example Peru’s 9 percent, Mexico’s 8 percent, and Indonesia’s 3 percent. This is the reason why there have been no horrific news videos of mass graves in the Philippines, to the disappointment of Duterte-bashers.
How Covid hit
What do these figures mean?
The low rates of active cases and deaths indicate that our hospital system and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has done spectacularly, I would say, given the crowds at markets and packed slum areas. Private and public hospitals have been successful in managing the disease so that death rates are low.
My doctor-friends have told me that Filipino physicians and nurses have been so innovative and committed in caring for Covid patients. They say that even such simple actions by nurses such as regularly patting patients’ backs or getting them to lie on their stomachs and then back again to clear the Covid-induced phlegm have done wonders in curing patients. Physicians here have also experimented in using all sorts of medicine cocktails. For some reason, the use of the controversial Remdesivir has become popular. Whatever works, they say.
Government and the IATF, yes, Sen. Richard Gordon, the health department have been efficient in organizing and guiding the hospital system, so Covid patients are distributed for better care. The government has also built enough temporary facilities to house Covid patients.
While new cases have been on the upswing in the past two months, this appears to be the pattern of the pandemic in every country: A third wave. We will only know in the next weeks (or even days) if the new Delta variant spreads so quickly as to overwhelm our health care system. However, going by its performance in the past 17 months, and the stats I presented, it’s reasonable to expect that our government and health system will finally get us out of this pandemic.
A big problem though is that after more than a year, people have become sick and tired of the lockdowns and the protocols, and many have started to become fatalist with that bahala-na-ang-Diyos mentality. Many of course have run out of money, prompting people to ask for loans that they can’t but risk going out.
Many have lowered their guard they had kept up since last year.
Don’t. Just the other day, a friend was totally surprised that she as well as her family was infected, even if they were vaccinated. She vibered me: “I’m coughing continuously, and the feeling of being unable to breathe is horrible. I haven’t felt such pain in my whole body. I never imagined Covid could be so painful.” But because of the vaccine, her case is not in the “serious/critical” category that she’s being treated at home.
Get yourself vaccinated. Follow the safety protocols. Aargh! I want this pandemic to end.
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