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FIRING LINE: Do you need a 4th jab?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

At the forefront of administering 4th dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 in the world is Israel. However, leading vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, have not expressly claimed a fourth booster would, in fact, protect populations against an Omicron wave of infections.

But what’s clear is that the vaccines’ efficacy wanes over time. And with conclusive data still missing in the equation, it becomes a default realization for nations fighting a new COVID-19 surge to boost the immunity of their populations.

As Pfizer jabs are being rolled out as the fourth dose both in Israel and Chile, Moderna, too, is preparing its vials as a fourth booster in the United States. Pfizer producers, though, are presenting better prospects for the future, claiming that their labs are already working on an updated serum that would be more effective against Omicron and other recent variants of concern.

In the Philippines, the option of a fourth dose to help arrest the rampaging spread of COVID-19 due to the contagious Omicron variant seems out of reach. Because of vaccine hesitancy, Filipinos struggle on all levels of the vaccine series, starting with the first dose.

Dr. Anthony Leachon, a former consultant of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), believes that the country now needs a hard lockdown of enough weeks to arrest massive transmissions. Although viable for other countries, the question of a 4th jab may be too late in the game for us since the government cannot even convince the remainder of its target population to get their first dose – sadly, many of these are the most vulnerable sector of the elderly.

Leachon’s appeal to resort to a lockdown “solution” is indicative of the government’s failure, in the first place, of preparing for the Omicron-driven surge. Balanced decision-making tipped to the side of economics in the profitable November-December season at the expense of the population’s health. “They protected livelihoods. But what good are livelihoods if there are no more lives to protect?” he pointed out.

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Several friends who sent me private messages expected me to be privy to the story behind the hacking of the Comelec servers by virtue of my association with the Manila Bulletin. The truth is, I know just as much as everyone who read the MB Technews exclusive last Tuesday.

So, all I can give on this matter are my beliefs, beginning with the integrity of the team of Technews editor, Art Samaniego Jr., that delivered the news. This is the same team that came across information that Comelec’s system was compromised in October 2015 – five months before the controversial “COMELEAKS” happened in the election year of 2016.

Understandably, Comelec Director James Jimenez would claim Comelec servers were not hacked while its IT experts investigate the report. But, this is not the stage of the investigation in which Comelec can say conclusively that there was no data breach.

After all, when a server is hacked, it leaves an electronic trail or indicator signals like alerts from the security provider or suspicious behavior in data logs. I suspect a white hack (hackers on the good side) had tipped off Art’s team of the data breach and presented enough evidence of such alerts.

For now, let’s all wait and see.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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