By Charlie Manalo
What piqued me most was when the President referred to Health Secretary Francisco Duque as the Philippine hero for this pandemic. That is the most horrible insult he could have accorded us.
What in the world has Duque done to merit that accolade? From the very start of this Covid-19 episode, Duque was acting like a scourge causing all our sufferings.
He refused to recommend a travel ban until Filipinos started getting infected with this deadly virus. He has done that again this year when he refused to recommend a travel ban from travelers coming from the United Kingdom where an aggressive variant was discovered. He again refused to recommend a travel ban from those coming from India where a deadly variant was uncovered. Now, we might have both variants here already.
Anyway, to cover up for his mistakes, Duque resorted to under-reporting the number of cases.
Around this time last year, the Department of Health reported one Covid-19 case for the whole of Region 7 when on the very same day, Cebu City was reporting 289 of citizens had contracted the disease.
Thinking most of us are computer illiterate, he then played with the manner of presentation of ovid-19 cases on their website. On the DOH website, it was clearly stated that the total active COVID-19 cases in the country as of July 21, stands at 70,764, the active cases at 45,646 as there have been 23,81 recoveries and 1,837 deaths to date. If you let the cursor hover above the entry for Positivity Rate which stands at 8.6 percent, a figure stating there are already 94,919 positive individuals will appear — a difference of 24,155 cases.
It was also at that time when Duque continued to refuse to push through with the mass testing.
Recently, another anomaly was discovered in the DOH’s presentation of figures. Just last month, the DOH claimed that as of April 10, there were 190,245 active cases of which 98.9 percent were mild and asymptomatic and 0.04 percent were critical; 0.05 percent severe; and 0.26 percent were moderate. Thus, at the most, only 0.35 percent of the 190,245 cases would require hospitalization. Or if the moderate cases do not need to be hospitalized, then that leaves us only with 0.09 percent needing hospital treatment.
Also, it stated that only 86 percent of the 700 ICU beds in the National Capital Region were in use; 69 percent of the 3,800 isolation beds in NCR were in use; 58 percent of the 2,200 ward beds were in use; and, 59 percent of the 800 ventilators were in use.
So, let’s now make the computation. 0.04 percent of 190,245 cases is only about 76 patients. 0.05 percent is equivalent to about 95 patients. And 0.26 percent runs to about 494. Thus, assuming all those, which is about 665 patients, would be needing hospitalization, even the 700 ICU beds would be more than enough. So, why were the hospitals then rejecting patients saying they have been overwhelmed by the number of cases?
Again, in his presentation to the President of the latest Covid-19 surge, Duque, duped not only the President, but the entire country as well when he declared the surge was caused by the community pantries.
May I remind Duque that the surge started last March, and it was the reason why the IATF recommended the NCR Plus be placed under ECQ originally from March 29 to April 4. The first community pantry was put up mid-April when we were already experiencing 10,000 to 20,000 cases daily.
So, what heroic thing has Duque done for the country? To push for the expensive medication Remdesivir which even the World Health Organization has said has shown no positive result in the treatment of Covid-19, has instead blocked the use of the cheaper ivermectin which medical doctors around the world have declared effective in preventing and treating the viral disease?
Entrap Mike and Marcoleta?
Apparently humiliated when Reps. Michael “Idol Mike” Defensor and Rodante Marcoleta defied him and pushed through with the distribution of ivermectin in Quezon City, he now is running after the doctors who assisted the two solons in the activity.
A disgusted Marcoleta lamented: “The FDA and DOH are free to do anything they want. That is what they do best. But before they could pass judgment on the Ivermectin Pan-Three in QC, they should have first asked themselves this basic and simple question: Why did that event in Matandang Balara, Quezon City happen in the first place?”
Marcoleta explains the ivermectin event conveys a clear message that the said agencies failed to grasp.
“It’s about helping people at the time when the very people tasked to do it are hesitating and dillydallying, when the time to act fast and decisively is wasted by complacency and indecision when they refuse to improvise and be flexible and chose to stick to peacetime guidelines that do not apply in a war-like pandemic that we are all in.”
Defensor, when informed the PNP-CIDG is already starting its probe on the event, says that he understands the policemen are simply following orders and that he would gladly give them ivermectin for their own protection should they want to avail themselves of the wonder drug.
“Alam ko na gusto rin nila at ng kanilang pamilya ng proteksyon. Everyone from the cabinet, doctors, police and military officials are taking ivermectin. I know that those who sympathize will not deny the poor access to the ivermectin drug,” says Idol Mike.
Marcoleta says officials of both the FDA and DOH, instead of going after the organizers of the event and the doctors involved, should have been the first to show up at the Ivermectin Pan–Three in Matandang Balara.
“In fact, instead of raising a howl to probe the event, they should have been behind that symbolic act, or could have done it way ahead in time before our group managed to do it,” says Marcoleta.
But no, the FDA and the DOH led by Duque will not do that as they might be busy pushing for the expensive Remdesivir. As Idol Mike puts it, the poor want and need access to inexpensive therapeutic drugs to fight COVID-19 “because the drugs the DoH and the FDA are promoting are for the rich.”
“Remdesivir, for instance, costs from P12,000 to P48,000 per vial, and you need two vials a day. On the other hand, ivermectin costs only P35 per tablet, and only one tablet is needed daily. The DOH and FDA are allowing the use of Remdesivir, while cracking down on ivermectin. Their bias is for the rich and against the poor,” says Defensor.
And to think that no less than the World Health Organization has recommended against the use of Remdesivir saying there is no proof that it has in any way, effected the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
And that is the exact opposite of the findings on Ivermectin, whose safety, according to Dr. Iggy Agbayani, president of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens, Philippines, has been proven over the past 25 years with about 3.7 billion doses dispensed to the public,
“This is very cheap. There have already been 52 studies with regards to its use against Covid-19, with 27 of them being randomized clinical trials, compared to the Covid-19 vaccine which has only one clinical trial and yet they are already dispensing it to the public. If they still insist it is still not enough, then I’m not sure anymore what they really want,” says Agbayani.
And just the other day, the American Journal of Therapeutics have included Dr. Pierre Kory’s scientific medical paper on the effectiveness of ivermectin in their May – June 2021 issue.
That means an international medical society – the AJT, is now acknowledging Dr. Kory’s study that ivermectin is effective in treating Covid and is accepted as legitimate.
So, is that what Duterte considers a heroic act done by Duque?
If Duterte really wants Duque to emerge a hero here, he should have forced Duque’s resignation a long time ago so that someone competent and honest could already take his place.
Mr. President, the people are already suffering. Please avoid rubbing salt on our bleeding wounds.