Vaccine will not ensure elimination of COVID-19 risk — health expert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) — A public health expert warned Wednesday that the development of coronavirus vaccine may not be enough to end the COVID-19 crisis.

“Even with the vaccine coming in will not ensure elimination of risk of COVID-19 in the near future,” University of the Philippines College of Public Health Dean Vicente Belizario said in an online forum.

However, Belizario said that control and preventive measures could lower people’s chances of being infected with COVID-19.

Roles and responsibilities

The expert stressed that collaboration among policy makers, local governments, private sector and the public is a must to bring the coronavirus infection under control.

“If only the parties tasked to respond and act on major public health concerns like COVID do their job … If these various sectors did their respective roles, we will be closer and closer to control and prevention of COVID,” he said.

He said local governments must provide support to the Department of Health through delivery of health services. He added that contact tracing is one of their “major roles”.

The healthcare providers, meanwhile, are tasked to capacitate community frontliners to trace clusters of infection as well as prevent or contain an outbreak before it gets out of control, he said.

Belizario added the public must support policy makers, but he underscored that policies must be based on “evidence from reliable data.”

He pointed out the public should demonstrate “behavioral modification in daily living.” For this to happen, the policy makers must have highly effective communication strategy.

“It is not enough we put up materials and ads to make sure that materials used for communication actually result in behavioral modification, where the public understands and changes their way of looking at things,” he said

The DOH has repeatedly asked the public to wear mask properly, observe proper hygiene and practice physical distancing to lower their risk of getting the respiratory infection that has claimed thousands of lives in the Philippines.