Photo courtesy of NTF Against Covid-19

MANILA – The government’s vaccination program against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is helping the economy amidst another surge of infections, an official of First Metro Investment Corporation (FMIC) said. 
In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, FMIC head of research Cristina Ulang said daily Covid-19 cases have reached around 33,000 but the economy remains open, with the movement restriction still at Alert Level 3 instead of Alert Level 4 as some sectors have suggested. 
“And that’s really the result of our vaccination rate of 50 percent. The economy is able to function,” she said. 
The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reported 33,169 daily Covid-19 cases. 
Daily cases are lower at 28,007 on Tuesday, it said.
Ulang said the utilization rate of hospital intensive care units (ICUs) and non-ICU beds remains at around 50 percent. 
“That’s why we’re not yet being raised on Alert Level 4 and that’s the beauty of it. That’s the big difference that we are now seeing that’s benefiting the economy,” she said, citing that factories remain open and some workers are able to work remotely. 
With Covid-19  booster shots now being administered nationwide, Ulang is more optimistic that the economy will be “able to reopen in a bigger way.” 
During the same briefing, University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) economist Victor Abola cited medical authorities' reports of the weaker impact of the Omicron Covid-19 variant to people compared to other variants like Delta. 
“I’m actually optimistic that we can open up much faster than our authorities think,” he said. 
Meanwhile, Ulang said the contribution of election spending on domestic growth will be lower for this year compared to past election years. 
“Lower than 2 percent but there will be an upside,” she said.
The FMIC forecasts the domestic economy to expand by 6-7 percent this year.  
Abola said what is important is for the election “to be credible more than anything.”
“It doesn’t matter who is elected,” he said, adding “People know that the candidates will spend a lot of money.”
“It’s more whether the votes are counted properly and all of that,” he added.
Abola said this issue is being addressed with the help of civic groups.
“Credibility of the election is the one at stake,” he said. (PNA)