MANILA — Filipinos may see some sense of normalcy by 2023, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday, as the Philippines received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines.
"Early in the first maybe first or second quarter of year '23, 2023, baka, tulong ng Diyos (maybe with the help of God)," he said, when asked for an estimate of when the Philippines could return to normalcy.
Carlito Galvez Jr, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force on COVID-19, also earlier said the country may return to normalcy by 2023.
"It is only through this that we can implement a sustainable immunization program to recover the economy and restore normalcy in the lives of the Filipino people by 2023 through our bayanihan spirit," Galvez said in a public briefing.
The Philippines on Sunday received 600,000 China-donated shots of the COVID-19 vaccine by Bejing-based Sinovac biotech.
The last Southeast Asian country to receive initial vaccine supplies, the Philippines is seeking to secure up to 148 million doses so it can inoculate 70 million people, or two thirds of its population.
The archipelago, which has the second-highest tally of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the region, will mark the first year of its coronavirus quarantine this March.
The nearly year-long quarantine has left businesses struggling and millions out of work.
The Philippines' gross domestic product shrank last year by 9.5 percent, its worst contraction since the end of World War 2.