Economists are warning that the Philippine economy will be at the losing end anew once the Delta variant infects more people and prompts the government to impose another round of strict lockdowns as they urge the Covid-19 vaccination program in the country to be expedited.
The Delta variant, considered as the more dangerous and transmissible strain of Covid-19, is now wreaking havoc in neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Department of Health has already reported local cases of the variant.
ING Bank senior economist Nicholas Mapa expressed concern over the likelihood of another surge and its impact on the economy that has yet to see sustained green shoots of recovery.
Union Bank of the Philippines chief economist Ruben Carlo Asuncion said the already precarious state of economic recovery will definitely suffer if the Delta variant spreads like wildfire. “Although I believe the country’s healthcare system can cope, based on the previous wave, this type of spread is the last thing that the ailing economy needs,” he said.
The National Economic and Development Authority also recognizes the higher risk posed by the Delta variant but NEDA Secretary Karl Chua said it can be managed by guarding the country’s borders and enforcing health standards rather than placing the entire country or large areas under strict quarantines. He also believes that accelerating vaccination is key.
The Foundation for Economic Freedom said the Delta variant can be contained if more vaccines will be administered and that will lessen possible economic damage.
Experts are in agreement that the Delta variant poses a serious threat to the country and that accelerating vaccination is key to mitigating its potential impact and damage. Although it has already been detected in the country, government officials still downplay the threat in an attempt to protect local economies from panic. We wish them the best of luck as they prepare the country for the worst case scenario while being distracted with efforts to make their efforts look good as the President’s State of the Nation Address approaches. What we need are decisive actions with public health and the long view in mind are being taken by those responsible for our country even as their peers busy themselves with short term window dressing.
Hopefully, our country is as ready for the Delta variant as it is for the President’s SONA.*