Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC), together with the OCTA Research Group and GO Negosyo, recently facilitated a relevant and pressing discussion on the country’s progress through the COVID-19 pandemic in its latest webicon entitled “COVID-19: From Pandemic to Endemic". The webicon was held via Zoom and Facebook Livestream last July 28, Thursday.
Present as speakers were OCTA Research fellows Prof. Ranjit Singh Rye and Dr. Guido David, GO Negosyo Founder Mr. Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Special Adviser Dr. Teodoro “Teddy” Herbosa, Health Reform Advocate Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon, and Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante. CSMC’s very own Dr. Paul Salandanan joined in as a reactor, and the event was facilitated by CSMC’s Vice President and Head of Human Resources, Ms. Lucky Diaz-Tiozon.
The webicon opened with a discussion from Rye and Concepcion, taking points from the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) given by Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Rye and Concepcion talked about what strategies will help the country move forward from an economic standpoint and how clear, effective, and relevant policies can mitigate COVID-19 and sustain economic recovery.
David presented a scientific, research-based analysis of recent COVID-19 trends, comparing the Philippines’ current COVID-related statistics to numbers during previous surges. Solante, on the other hand, provided a look into the various strains of the virus, what differentiates them from each other, and the on-ground experiences of clinicians in handling it.
Herbosa touched on the challenges faced by various sectors because of the pandemic and gave his recommendations on potential exit strategies that can be explored in order to better prepare for potential threats in the future. Leachon followed this up by tackling what measures ought to be observed in order to move forward from the pandemic, while Salandanan offered his own insights as CSMC’s resident Infectious Disease Specialist.
The webicon was concluded through an open forum session with all the panelists and speakers, where they stamped out any misconceptions regarding vaccines and COVID-19 testing and stressed the importance of working together in safeguarding the health and well-being of the Filipino people.
“What is important is capacity building,” said Herbosa. “We need to build up our capacity in terms of policy formulations in vaccines, emergencies, and pandemics.”
“As we move from pandemic to endemic, one of the key elements of any national exit strategy [is to] really ensure access to quality testing,” added Rye. “Apart from expanding treatment facilities [and making them accessible], we really need to deal with testing. The state has to [find ways to] provide quality antigen testing and [improve the] reporting of these results.”
“Getting the first and second booster will protect our healthcare utilization because we are [preventing] people [from] developing the more severe form of COVID, especially if [they] have comorbidities,” said Solante.
“The way forward is really informing our public more so that [they] can make better decisions. It is important for us to come up with a holistic and comprehensive plan for everything, whether it is expanded testing and treatment, information campaigns, [or] even just sustaining our booster and vaccine programs,” stressed Rye. “We need to come up with a comprehensive national COVID strategy. That is the challenge for this new administration.”