There’s a pattern one sees with the COVID-19 cases in Asia and Australia. Countries which did not experience massive surges are feeling the brunt of the omicron wave in these two regions of the world. Perhaps one of the strongest explanation for this is the lack of natural immunity due to the ZERO COVID policies. After all, while many countries cheered on the success of their ZERO COVID program, SARS-CoV-2 found a way to mutate into other variants of concern.
The last two years saw an evolution of alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron as the major variants of concerns that would play a role in how the pandemic evolved.
It began in 2019 in Wuhan, China as the epicenter of what would be a global pandemic of the 21st century. More than four months later, China would contain the outbreak in Wuhan and institute a ZERO COVID policy. The most draconian of lockdowns was implemented in China.
It took the World Health Organization almost three months, and upon pressure of other nations, to declare the outbreak in Wuhan as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. There was no turning back after that announcement. The global knee jerk reaction was to shut down borders. And the rest was history.
More than two years and several variants of concerns later, the world continues to turn and life goes on. The pandemic is still very much around, in spite of the vaccines that have probably been instrumental in averting more deaths. Economies continue to sputter. At the end of the day, the challenge remains on how different governments address the balancing act of health and economy. After all, the political platform of a nation is the very root cause of where we are today.
Omicron – whether as BA.1 or BA.2 – has become a global nightmare. Do we learn to live with this or not? From a peak of almost 4M daily cases in the month of January alone (due to omicron), the world now sees an average of 1.6M daily cases.
While South Korea broke its own record high today with more than 400,000 cases, all eyes are actually on China where it saw numbers jump to more than quintuple numbers due to its ZERO COVID policy.
Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China is in the midst of the omicron wave, with news of hospitals full to the brim and now owning the highest death rate due to COVID-19 in the world. With a population of 7.6M, this puts deaths at 601 per million population (mostly the elderly) in this tiny nation south of China.
For now, Europe is seeing a slight uptick in number of cases as more than 771,000 cases were from this region alone. Asia saw more than 734,000 cases of the close to 1.69 M cases on March 15, 2022, with more than half coming from South Korea alone. The Philippines has stopped its daily reporting (for reasons that are not explained well) and readers (and I) will need to make heads or tails of the ‘weekly report’ moving forward.
As the country is now at very low risk from data in the past week (590 daily cases on the average), let’s try to keep this in check by continuing to observe minimum health standards and jump starting the economy without compromising the gains made in the past weeks. After all, 2021 wasn’t the best year for us because we went through all the variants of concern from alpha, beta, delta and omicron. It was the worst year. As we reopen the country for business, we should not let the political noise of the upcoming national election distract us from the pandemic.
The next leader should remain focused on how to help the Filipino during a crisis. Performance rather than promises should count when choosing the next president of our nation for the next 6 years. We will still be in for a ride because the pandemic is NOT YET OVER.