COVID Discussion Paper September 2021

Sept. 21, 2021 — Makati Business Club joins other Filipinos in congratulating the national and local government, healthcare, business, and other sector leaders for achieving current vaccination levels. To build on the gains and accelerate this, MBC supports the call to open vaccination to all Filipinos, while maintaining priority lanes for A1, A2, A3, and A4, among other measures. It pledges its continued support in this and other COVID-related responses.

This and other recommendations are in a COVID Discussion Paper MBC released today to contribute to the dialogue on the safe reopening of the economy to protect and create jobs. In the Discussion Paper, MBC says it also recommends vaccine allocation be strategic and efficient, as well as more transparent to avoid any perception it is politicized; allowing LGUs and the private sector to buy more of their own vaccines; allowing businesses to mandate employees to be vaccinated; and for the government to considering requiring vaccination for its employees.

MBC also called on the government to accelerate vaccine purchases not only for the unvaccinated population but, as the science develops, for boosters. Boosters should probably go first to healthcare workers, whose immunity may be waning because they were the first to be vaccinated, MBC said.

“Vaccination — probably the most important part of the war against COVID – has momentum, and we believe there are areas for improvement and acceleration,” said MBC Chairman Edgar O. Chua. “We also need to plan for the medium term: While the science is developing, we should assume we will need vaccination every year for the next few years. We need to organize ourselves to make sure we have the vaccines and can service everyone’s needs.”

Meanwhile, MBC said that as the government allows the economy to reopen, it strongly recommends improvement of the hospital, isolation, and quarantine networks; the One Hospital Command; a unified digital contact tracing system; vaccine certification; and testing. The group also called on the government to resolve the issue of PhilHealth payments to hospitals, and improve healthcare worker pay and conditions to keep them from resigning, not bar them from leaving to work abroad.

“We cannot just vax our way to reopening and recovery,” Chua said. “We need physical facilities, tech-enabled systems, financially-viable hospitals, and healthcare workers who are properly paid and provided for. We can’t fight COVID without the hospitals, we can’t run the hospitals without healthcare workers.”

Finally, MBC welcomed yesterday’s DepEd announcement of a pilot program for a return to classroom schooling with appropriate protocols. “Now the agenda is to get it started and accelerate its expansion. We need to get the kids back in the classrooms, especially those who are short on devices, internet connection, and other resources. This is about theirs and our country’s future,” Chua said. MBC said the cost of remote schooling is far-reaching, including parents who have to leave work, a reduction in student’s future earnings, and a toll on decades of economic growth. (END)

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