Among the perplexing trends recently in the fight against COVID-19 is that as countries’ vaccination rates (at least one dose given) increase, the number of COVID-19 cases also increase.
I checked the data from Worldometers, here are some countries with rising COVID cases until around July 17:
1.) Slight uptick — the US, Austria, France, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon;
2.) Medium uptick — Iran, Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Kuwait;
3.) High uptick — South Africa, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia.
But these countries in Figure 1 really have steep increases in cases — the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Cyprus — and they have high vaccination rates of at least 56% of their total population. Also six ASEAN countries.
Vaccination rates, as of July 17: Netherlands 67.7%, Cambodia 34.5%, South Korea 31.5%, Malaysia 29.6%, Kazakhstan 25.8%, Russia 21.8%, Thailand 15.4%, Indonesia 15.1%, and Vietnam 4.1%.
As of July 15: the UK 68.0%, Spain 62.1%, Cyprus 55.8%, the Philippines 9.2%; Bangladesh 3.5% (July 13), Myanmar 3.4% (June 5). Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations?country.
There are many possibilities and for me the main reason is that the people’s natural immunity (especially the young and healthy) against mutating viruses and bacteria has been compromised by first, indefinite lockdown and stay home orders, and, second, by supposedly vaccine immunity.
Indefinite stay at home and mobility restrictions disallow people from getting more sunlight, more outdoor exercise. And all those vaccines, invented only in 2020 or in just few months with no long-term studies, no studies over many years if not decades on real safety and efficacy, may be spiking the virus to further mutate while the people’s innate immunity is being compromised.
In the US for instance, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed a total of 463,457 reports of adverse events from all age groups following COVID-19 vaccines, including 10,991 deaths and 48,385 serious injuries between Dec. 14, 2020 and July 9, 2021 (https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/vaers-deaths-injuries-reported-cdc-covid-vaccines-moderna-pregnant-women/).
Viruses and bacteria naturally mutate, humans also naturally mutate to the changing environment, from microscopic organisms to natural climate change, warming-cooling cycle for centuries and millennia.
Humanity — Asians and Filipinos in particular — has experienced many virulent viruses in recent past, like the Asian flu (1957-58), Hong Kong flu (1968-69), AIDS (1980s to present), SARS 1 (2003-2004), H1N1 (2009-2010), MERS (2013-2014). Yet the human population keeps expanding and life expectancy keeps increasing.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) population census 2020 (released on July 7) show that the country’s population continues to expand by 16-17 million people per decade, or about 1.65 million per year, net of death and migration. Death statistics 2020 (released on June 18) show less deaths, from an average of 1,700 deaths per day in 2019 to 1,680 per day in 2020 (see Figure 2).
Three points to derive from the above data and numbers.
One, since many countries experience further spikes in COVID-19 cases as their vaccination rates keep rising, expanding vaccination to the young and healthy, especially those below 20 years old, should be reconsidered if not temporarily halted pending results of medium- to long-term studies on safety and efficacy. And plans by many governments to have mandatory vaccination, explicit (via legislation) and implicit (via discrimination) should be dropped.
Two, the Philippines has a big and young population with a huge productive capacity but which is restrained by the indefinite lockdown and mobility restrictions. The lockdown should end and allow the people more economic freedom to be productive.
Three, the decrease in deaths in the Philippines in 2020 was mainly due to reduced fatalities in road accidents and crimes. But this is not justification for continued lockdown because the economic damage has been severe. Economic freedom, people having regular jobs and stable incomes, is still the best way to improve their health, natural immunity, and economic wellbeing.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the Director for Communication and Corporate Affairs, Alas Oplas & Co. CPAs