By Corina Oliquino

MANILA — OCTA Research’s Guido David said their Tugon ng Masa survey, conducted from December 1 to 13 over 600 Metro Manila residents aged 12 and above, found more believe in prayers than maintaining social distancing to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“One in two resorts to prayers, one way of not getting a disease, based on their perspective,” Guido said, noting 48 percent of the respondents interviewed admitted they resort to prayer to fight off the virus.

“This result reflects our cultural perspective or upbringing or environment in which we resort to prayers to solve problems, although these problems can be solved by applying simple measures like wearing of masks,” he added, noting the survey’s outcome came as a surprise for their group.

The survey also found that 48 percent of respondents cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, with David noting they included prayer in the options “to know how the people will react to a less conventional response instead of a scientific response.”

Too early to claim victory

In a report by The Philippine Star, OCTA said it is premature to celebrate the low increase in COVID-19 cases following the Yuletide season.

“We are happy to say the worst did not come to pass but we are not clear yet,” David said, noting the COVID-19 testing capacity was not fully operational during the holidays and with only 50 percent of swab specimens processed.

“This is anecdotal… but there were individuals who (thought they) contracted COVID-19 but they were not going to hospitals. They did not want to spend the holiday in the hospital,” he added, noting cases may still possibly increase if the operation of laboratories is at full capacity and all probable cases are tested.

The Department of Health (DOH) Undersec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said, “We are not out of the woods yet. The recent trends that we are seeing are not yet stable. We would see 800 new cases in one day, and then 1,000 in another day and then 900. It’s really unstable,” she added, noting the DOH is expecting to see by mid-January if the holidays impacted the country’s COVID-19 caseload.

OCTA’s and DOH’s statements followed presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s “worse is over” pronouncement last January 7.

Half of Filipinos don’t want to get vaccinated against COVID-19

In another report by ABS-CBN News, a Pulse Asia survey found 47 percent of Filipinos will not get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19.

The survey, conducted from November 23 to December 2 among 2400 respondents, also found 22 percent were undecided about getting vaccinated while 32 percent said they would not get vaccinated.

According to the survey, 84 percent of respondents are concerned about the safety of the vaccines and it is the primary reason why they would not get vaccinated.

“The sentiment was highest in Metro Manila at 89 percent, followed by Visayas at 88 percent, Balance Luzon at percent, and Mindanao at 79 percent,” Pulse Asia found, noting some five percent said a vaccination was not required to combat COVID-19 while seven percent were concerned that it might not be free and four percent said it might be expensive.

Previously, an OCTA Research survey found that only 25percent of Metro Manila residents are willing to be inoculated against COVID-19 despite the National Capital Region (NCR) having roughly a tenth of the country’s 100 million population.

Former DOH Sec. Esperanza Cabral told ANC that 75 percent vaccine hesitancy is “very dangerous.”

“We need to make them understand that vaccines are effective and safe. And that if they take it, the chances of developing this dreaded coronavirus illness are going to be reduced by very significant number,” she said.

“We need to make sure that we reach everybody with the correct information so that they can choose for themselves whether they will accept the vaccine or not,” she added.