The Philippines is said to be among the last countries in the region, along with Vietnam and Taiwan, to vaccinate 70% of its population and gain so-called herd immunity, Britain’s think tank Oxford Economics said on Tuesday.
Vaccinated people are protected against disease and virus transmission, so inoculating so many would break the chain of transmission and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Oxford Economics has forecast that it will take until the middle of next year for the Philippines to inoculate some 78 million people, or 70 percent of its population of 111 million.
Across Asia, low vaccination rates, combined with low tolerance to the virus in several locations, have made many Asian economies vulnerable to the setbacks of COVID-19, said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia’s economy. Oxford Economics, and Senior Economist Lloyd Chan in their report “Limited Vaccination. delays recoveries.
Achieving collective immunity is necessary to allow the reopening of more economic activities. The longer it takes to get there, the longer the time to economic recovery.
Oxford Economics has said it expects Singapore to hit this threshold in August; China in less than five months; Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Korea, in just over five months; Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand, in less than 10 months, and India and Indonesia, in just over 10 months.
As of July 10, Taiwan and Vietnam had the slowest mass vaccination rate, while the Philippines ranked third among Asia-Pacific countries for the percentage of the population vaccinated.
Target end of July
The government hopes to fully immunize some seven million people by the end of the month, according to the chief secretary of the National COVID-19 Task Force Carlito Galvez Jr.
This would equate to just 6.3 percent of the country’s population.
So far, some 3.5 million people are considered fully vaccinated after receiving two doses since the government launched its mass vaccination campaign in March.
Galvez said the government is confident it will reach the seven million target this month as it is due to receive a delivery of 3.2 million doses of Janssen vaccines from Johnson & Johnson.
Requiring only a single jab, administering the full Janssen cargo would equate to 3.2 million fully vaccinated people.
The elderly and those with co-morbidities would be the priority in the distribution of the single-dose vaccine and each region would receive at least 100,000 doses each, according to Under Secretary of Health Myrna Cabotaje.
On Tuesday, however, OCTA Research called on the government to continue to prioritize the National Capital Region (NCR) and eight other regions in its vaccination campaign to help the country weather the pandemic faster.
These are Pampanga, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, the areas with the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside the NCR.
“The key to success is sticking to a plan. We have a plan, NCR Plus 8. We hope that the plan will not be marred by different politics and influences. If we stick to this plan, the country will move forward, ”OCTA’s Ranjit Rye told Laging Handa’s briefing.
It also needs to be done urgently given the threat posed by the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, he added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have signed an agreement to conduct clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines to find the most suitable brand for Filipinos, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan signed the deal, DOST Under Secretary Rowena Guevara said on Tuesday.
Guevara said the trials were also aimed at finding the most effective vaccine that would provide adequate protection and be easy to administer and manufacture in the country.
The trial would involve four vaccines, but Guevara said she couldn’t name them without Food and Drug Administration approval.
WHO also provided the final clinical trial protocol, standard operating procedures and investigative brochures for the vaccines, she said.
The Philippines has so far used the Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in their vaccination campaign. He is also expected to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccines later this month.
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