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Now that we have the vaccines, which have been indiscriminately touted as a pandemic silver bullet, it seems there is still more to expect after the second shot

For much of 2020, people have hunkered down at home and pondered about life post-pandemic. “Vaccine” became a powerful buzzword, one that generated hope amid a difficult time.

Lauded, yet also questioned, for its rapid development, the race to create an effective vaccine became one of the most anticipated breakthroughs in the world. There were many key players, each of which incorporated their own technologies and innovations. At the moment, the Philippines has mainly distributed three kinds of vaccines to its citizens: the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine, and just recently, the American-made Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. As of writing, the country has been prioritising A1 to A3 subgroups, which consist of frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidity. A total of 675,000 have been fully vaccinated in three months, and the government has set its sights to vaccinate 70 million by the yearend.

After completing vaccination, some scientists have suggested that there must be an accompanying booster shot. This topic, however, is highly debated. Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, has recently said that people will “likely” need a third booster shot within 12 months of inoculation and countries have also signed deals for booster shots; the Philippines itself has plans to purchase from Moderna.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson CEO, Alex Gorsky, has also announced the likelihood of yearly Covid-19 vaccines. However, top experts from the World Health Organisation and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have argued that there is no evidence for such—at least, not at the moment.

Read more: Moderna Jabs In The Philippines: What You Need To Know About The COVID-19 Vaccine

Locally, developments are also being made. A UP OCTA Research fellow has recently announced plans to develop a yeast-based oral vaccine. Father Nicanor Austriaco is the molecular biologist behind the experiment and he’s pointed out that should it prove successful, the innovation could make it easier to vaccinate Filipinos in further-flung areas that don’t have storage capacity for more traditional vaccines.

Several experiments involve nasal sprays, which could be potential “lifesavers”. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo recently praised a Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) developed by Canadian institution, SaNOtize Research. According to the data, NONS has been shown to reduce symptom severity and lessen the number of viral droplets given out by a Covid-19 positive patient. Similarly, American-based Amcyte Pharma developed an algae-based nasal spray called Nasitrol which has shown effectivity in protecting healthcare workers from infection.

In countries where vaccination drives are being done quickly and efficiently, a sense of normality has slowly started to creep in. In the United States and in Israel, vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks outdoors. Lockdowns have been lifted and “normal” activities—such as dining in—have resumed.

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Recently, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States had released a list of what are deemed as “safe activities” for the fully vaccinated. Noticeably, outdoor activities can all mostly be done maskless. These include: attending crowded outdoor events or performances, dining al fresco with people from multiple households, and exercising outdoors with members from the same household. 

Maskless indoor activities such as participating in high-intensity exercise classes (such as spinning or yoga) have also been deemed as safe. People who have completed vaccinations may also visit a barbershop or salon, enjoy a day out in an uncrowded indoor shopping mall, watch a movie inside the theatre, and or attend a full-capacity worship service without worry. While these are normally things an unvaccinated person daren’t do at the moment, those who have the opportunity to complete their shots are free to do so, at least according to the CDC.

Hopefully, as inoculations ramp up in the Philippines, the local population can also begin to enjoy these activities. However, it’s important not to get too complacent, especially when so few have been fully vaccinated in the Philippines. The good news is: there is light at the end of this long, winding tunnel—it’s just a matter of patience.

Read more: AstraZeneca: 5 Things You Need To Know About This COVID-19 Vaccine