AST JAB A resident gets vaccinated against Covid-19 at a drive-through vaccination site in Manila on Monday as the city prepares for another lockdown to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Thursday made another pitch for setting up a Covid-safe “bakuna (vaccine) bubble” in the National Capital Region (NCR) as a way of reviving business.
Under the concept, malls in Metro Manila will allow vaccinated and unvaccinated persons to enter while individual shops inside, such as restaurants, cafés, salons and gyms, will implement the vaccine bubble.
Concepcion said fully jabbed individuals need a vaccination card to access establishments in the bubble. Unvaccinated persons must present a document proving they had a negative result in an antigen or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for Covid-19.
“This is a better approach than continuing to have lockdowns. In this way, we can let businesses open safely with the help of more mobility from both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated,” he said.
Unvaccinated persons can have their own bubble and exclusive transportation systems to allow them to shuttle between their homes and workplaces, Concepcion said.
He said the concept is meant to be sustainable even as quarantine classifications change “since we have already set up the safeguards to protect both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.”
The measures are also scalable since it will also allow for adjustments in capacity when quarantine classifications change, Concepcion said.
The Go Negosyo founder said the scheme will be implemented only in the NCR since the supply of Covid-19 vaccines is concentrated in the region.
The latest data also indicates that half of Metro Manila’s population will be fully vaccinated by the end of August, he said.
The bakuna bubble needs to be approved first by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“With the help of Sen. [Christopher Lawrence] Bong Go and with the inputs of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] Chairman [Benjamin “Benhur”] Abalos…I felt that this is the best way to effectively implement the ‘bakuna bubble’ proposal,” said Concepcion.
He said he has also explained his proposal to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“The proposal was put forward as a way to safely reopen the economy while protecting the unvaccinated. Recent data has shown that unvaccinated persons accounted for the majority of those who were hospitalized for Covid-19 in NCR,” Concepcion said.
With the spread of the Delta variant, the country’s health care system could be overwhelmed if the infections continue unabated, he said.
These measures, Concepcion said, “are only to mitigate the damage caused by the pandemic and are not meant to be permanent.”
“As vaccinations continue to roll out, we can expect people to have more mobility and still be protected from severe infections,” Concepcion said.