Herd immunity? Duque says PH may achieve it in 2022 if vaccines delayed

Aleta Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2021 05:32 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2021 05:42 PM

Herd immunity? Duque says PH may achieve it in 2022 if vaccines delayed 1
Customers line up outside a commercial building in Pasay City on March 28, 2021, a day before the scheduled imposition of enhanced community quarantine in "NCR plus." Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines may achieve herd immunity by the first quarter of 2022, in a worst case scenario, health chief Francisco Duque III said Friday.

“Worst case scenario baka until the first quarter of 2022. If the vaccines don’t come as expected,” Duque said in an interview with Karen Davila on ANC’s Headstart.

Herd immunity is when enough members of a population are immune to a disease, preventing the virus from being spread further. The Philippines aims to inoculate around 70 million against the coronavirus to achieve this.

The Philippines has so far received 4.025 million COVID-19 shots, about 1.8 million of which have been administered. 

Duque said herd immunity is governed by adequacy and supply of the vaccines.

“We need 140 million doses of vaccines to reach herd immunity. We need to vaccinate 70 million people. Ang byahe ng bakunahan sa Pilipinas malayo pa talaga 'yan for obvious reasons, hindi naman supisyente or sapat ang bakuna. It’s not a funding problem, we have the money,” he said. 

On Thursday, Malacañang said the supposed delivery to the Philippines of 15,000 Sputnik V COVID-19 shots from Russia was postponed. Sources earlier told ABS-CBN News that 15,000 shots of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V were not loaded on a Qatar Air commercial flight that was scheduled to arrive in the Philippines by 11 p.m. Wednesday. 

The government’s vaccination program currently covers the top 3 priority groups, including health workers, senior citizens and people with health risks.

“Ang importante sa atin ngayon 2 things in the face of a vaccine scarcity environment: yung healthcare workers they need to be protected fully. We have 1.7 million of them. How many vaccines or doses do we need? 3.4 million doses for them to give them complete protection. Senior citizens, they are the once most vulnerable. Sila po yung mga namamatay dahiil sa matinding kumplikasyon ng COVID. How many are they? they’re 9 million, you need 18 million doses. So 18 million plus 3.4 million ilan po yun? That’s about 21.4 million, malayo pa nyan,” he said.

The Philippines is expecting an accelerated delivery of COVID-19 vaccines starting May. Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez earlier said that the global production and delivery of vaccines were affected by the rising COVID-19 cases in countries like India.

As of Friday the Philippines logged 1,028,738 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, with over 69,000 active infections.

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