WE mark today the 122nd year of our independence from Spain at a time that has been grimly called “the time of the virus,” specifically, the coronavirus pandemic.
It is a time when the nation is burdened by great worries about public health and economic recession, and global economic collapse. It is a time when millions of our people have lost their living because draconian restrictions have prevented them from reporting to work and their employers cannot open for business.
In this precarious situation, the last thing we want to see is our nation panicking into reckless decisions that will have a far-reaching impact on our people’s lives and the nation’s future.
It is prudent for our people to be ever watchful of the country’s situation vis-à-vis the pandemic. They should be prepared for grave decisions and choices that may be called for.
We raise this matter this Independence Day because we are today tormented by difficult choices that must be made on how the country can best handle the pandemic to ensure the survival of the nation and the welfare of our 108 million people.
This Independence Day, we report about a team of researchers and scientists from the University of the Philippines who projected that by June 30 the country could be facing 40,000 coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
At a press briefing, Professor Guido David of the UP Institute of Mathematics said the projection was based on current trends and current Covid-19 data.
As of Wednesday, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country was at 23,732, with 4,895 who have recovered and 1,027 who died.
In March, the Department of Health (DoH) said the coronavirus disease might infect as many as 75,000 people in the next three months, or until June, if the virus was not contained, based on the estimates of experts and epidemiologists consulted by the DoH, and from the World Health Organization..
David said the mathematical methods the group used in making forecasts on Covid-19 were“just estimates of reality.”(When we make a forecast, we don’t say that it will be the actual number. It just depends on certain factors and on data provided by the DoH.)
On our part, what concerns us is how the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will use the projection of the UP research team. Will it rush to recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte that he revert the National Capital Region and Cebu into the modified enhanced community quarantine scheme, or MECQ, because of a possible rise in cases?
Will the task force accept the UP projection at face value and rush to hysterical action?
Before subjecting our people to these alarming numbers and panicky responses, we submit that the UP research report should first be read and studied alongside a recent paper that was published by the National Review in the United States, entitled “After repeated failures, it’s time to permanently dump epidemic models” by Michael Fumento, and published on April 18, 2020.
Fumento, a lawyer, author and freelance journalist who has been writing about epidemic hysterias for 35 years, wrote:
“Since the AIDS epidemic, people have been pumping out such models with often incredible figures. For AIDS, the Public Health Service announced (without documenting) there would be 450,000 cases by the end of 1993, with 100,000 in that year alone. The media faithfully parroted it. There were 17,325 by the end of that year, with about 5,000 in 1993. SARS (2002-2003) was supposed to kill perhaps ‘millions,’ based on analyses. It killed 744 before disappearing.
“Later, avian flu strain A/H5N1, ‘even in the best-case scenarios’ was to ‘cause 2 (million) to 7 million deaths’ worldwide….
“In the current crisis the most alarming model, nay probably the most influential in the implementation of the draconian quarantines worldwide, projected a maximum of 2.2 million American deaths and 550,000 United Kingdom deaths unless there were severe restrictions for 18 months or until a vaccine was developed.
“If epidemic models were just haphazardly wrong, we would expect about half the time they would be too low. Instead, they’re almost universally vastly too high. This isn’t happenstance but intentional.”
Assuming it’s possible to model an epidemic at all, an epidemic model should be ignored. Now and forever.