DOH on Bloomberg report: We cannot compare an apple with an orange


“We cannot compare an apple with an orange.”

This is what Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Friday in reaction to the latest Bloomberg report that again ranked the Philippines as the “worst place to be” among 53 countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During a media briefing, Vergeire stressed that each country has a different “context” in its battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

She also pointed out that the report did not include all countries.

“Ang bawat bansa may iba-iba tayong konteksto. We cannot be compared to the United States, for example, because even before the start of the pandemic, their health system robust na talaga ‘yan. High-income ‘yan eh,” she said.

“Nung dumating na ho ‘yung pandemya, dumating ang mga bakuna lalo natin nakita ‘yung mga stark diference across these different countries,” she added.

According to Vergeire, each country experienced the surge of the highly contagious Delta variant in different months this year.

This was the same explanation offered by Vergeire on Nikkei Asia’s COVID-19 Recovery Index, where the Philippines also ranked last among 121 countries.

“Hindi naging pare-pareho sa bansa ang pagdating ng Delta variant o ‘yung pag peak ng number of cases. You’ll find that as early as April and May, other countries are being overwhelmed already by this Delta variant,” she said.

“Nung dumating po sa atin na tumaas ang ating mga kaso, ito na lang pong period na ito na nag-analyze na sila,” she added.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the government's COVID-19 response chief implementer,  has called the Bloomberg report “biased” while the government’s COVID-19 recovery team dubbed it “unfair.”

DOH open to studies


Meanwhile, Vergeire said the DOH is open to researches.

“And actually pag tinignan natin, nakakapulot naman tayo ng ways to improve kapag tinitignan natin ‘yung mga pagaaral,” she said.

“But just to tell everybody and the public, hindi kami nagpapabaya sa ating response. We just want to tell everybody, mula’t mula ho, nakita natin kung paano nag improve ‘yung state ng ating pandemic response,” she added.

Vergeire said that since the pandemic, the country’s laboratory facilities have increased to 300 while daily vaccination jabs increased to an average of almost 600,000 from 300 per day.

“Pag tinignan natin different ang context. Let’s focus on what’s happening in our country. Our case fatality rate or our deaths have been lower than the global case fatality rate for so long already,” she said.

She also urged the public to refrain from getting discouraged by the analysis.

“Nawawalan ng loob ang ating mga kababayan na sana po hindi tayo naapektuhan ng ganito. Focused lang tayo sa ginagawa sa ating bansa, focused lang po tayo. Tuloy ang gagawin nating response at mas pag iigtingan pa natin,” she said.

PH more ‘capable’ now

Vergeire said that though no country can be prepared for any type of variant, the Philippines is now more capable in handling the coronavirus.

“What we can do, really, is our system dapat in place. That is how we prepare… kailangan laging handa ang bawat bansa. And based on our experience, I think we are more capable,” she said.

The Health undersecretary said the country learned a lot when cases peaked in July and August last year.

“Diyan natutunan na magkaroon ng One Hospital Command, na magkaroon ng network of hospitals, na magkaroon ng appropriate referral system,” she said.

“Dumating ang March and April, ang dami pa rin natin natutunan. Diyan natin natutunan na parang hindi na tayo sukat doon sa mga ginagawa natin sa borders natin, kailangan natin palawagin. Diyan din natin natutunan ‘yung biosurveillance.” 

When Delta entered the country, Vergeire said the government learned to focus on implementing lockdowns on highly-burdened areas instead of a generalized lockdown.

“We think that we are more capable the next time around another variant will come in. Kasi alam natin pagpasok nila, mas anticipated na ang ginagawa natin. I guess we learned along the way and the capabilities of our country has improved from the start of this pandemic,” she said. — RSJ, GMA News