Jake J Maderazo, editor and columnist, in his Sharp Edges column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (December 7, 2021)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: US Department of State)
The country is better prepared today against this variant, following its experiences on the Alpha, Beta and Delta waves. The government has administered 96 million vaccine doses or 86.4 percent of our total population of 111,050,000. Those fully vaccinated (two doses) stands at 38,700,000 persons, or 34.76 percent of the total population. The number of booster inoculations is also increasing. And unlike last year, people can even choose their preferred brands because of the government’s huge supplies.
The highly infectious Omicron variant will have a direct effect on the coming political campaign and its results. Even if found “milder” or deadlier than Delta, disruptions in our daily life will happen. Probably, we will see a repeat of lockdowns, return of face shields/masks and closed businesses due to higher alert levels next year. And this means limited campaigns, political rallies and stricter health protocols for candidates and supporters.
If Omicron is a milder, controllable variant, the administration candidates especially the incumbent mayors will have the advantage, being at the forefront of relief and successful vaccination of their citizens. But if Omicron becomes deadlier than Delta, then the government’s pandemic response becomes an election issue. This administration’s moves will be under microscopic scrutiny by voters. If cases zoom up again because of Omicron and hospitals are overwhelmed, then the opposition candidates in both national and local elections will have a better chance of winning.
When Omicron arrives, it is inevitable that we will again return to strict or very strict precautionary measures. Yes, it will be hard, but unlike last year, we now have available anti-Covid-10 drugs to avoid hospitalization and death. Also, our healthcare system is much now better following its Alpha, Beta and Delta experiences. We all must hope for the best.