ZAMBOANGA CITY, June 5 (PIA) - The vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may take up to 2 years to be ready, an official from the Department of Health (DOH) here clarified. He admits that the current situation is still "very dangerous" despite the eased quarantine levels.
"No, there are no approved vaccines yet. If anyone says otherwise, do not believe them," Dr. Joshua Brillantes, assistant regional director of DOH-9 said during the Philippine Information Agency's Kapihan na Zamboanga on Tuesday (June 2).
He explained that vaccines usually are made available between 1 year and half to 2 years from the discovery of a new virus following thorough research, series of trials and production. However, the development of potential vaccines by pharmaceutical companies around the world has been going on for months since the discovery of the novel coronavirus. Some of the potentials are now awaiting human clinical trials.
The Philippines is one of many nations set to participate in such trials, said Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena recently, however no timeline has been specified yet.
As Zamboanga City and other parts of the country shift to lower quarantine levels following national IATF guidelines, majority of checkpoints that enforce the quarantine pass schedules have already been dismantled resulting to freer movement in the city. Commercial flights are expected to resume on June 8. More commercial establishments have re-opened. Residents have mixed reactions to these new developments as uncertainty about the virus still remains.
"It is still very dangerous," confirms Dr. Brillantes. "The virus is still here, and it will continue to find hosts to infect. People will make it easy for the virus to do that if they forget about the safety precautions such as social distancing, wearing of masks and proper handwashing."
He reiterates that the risk of infection ultimately rests upon the individuals - whether they take health protocols seriously, or not.
Zamboanga City is currently under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and will transition to modified GCQ in the coming days. The lowest quarantine level is the "new normal". This level will persist until such time a vaccine is ready, said Dr. Brillantes.
"Stay at home as much as possible and limit social interaction," he added.
As per latest DOH-9 COVID-19 situational report, 4 people from region 9 died due to COVID-19, with a total of 161 cumulative positive cases.
Meanwhile, distance learning is the primary option of the Department of Education (DepEd) as President Rodrigo Duterte is not in favor of resuming physical classes with children until such time a vaccine is made available. (NBE/DIS/PIA9-ZAMSULTA)