MANILA - The Philippines will achieve "population protection" in Metro Manila and 8 other key economic hubs, Malacañang said Wednesday after Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said herd immunity cannot be achieved this year.
The Philippine government aims to vaccinate 500,000 people daily in NCR+8 to achieve herd immunity by November 27, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr earlier said.
Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, however, has said the Philippines is now eyeing “population protection” against the novel coronavirus before the end of the year.
“We are shifting to the term 'population protection' through mass immunization kasi po iyong ating herd immunity, marami pong mga kaakibat na mga criteria,” Cabotaje said during a televised public briefing.
“Herd immunity” usually refers to continuous protection, said Cabotaje, who is chairperson of the National Vaccinations Operations Center.
The fresh batch of 1 million Sinovac vaccines that arrived over the weekend has been distributed to local governments but has yet to be administered as government is waiting for quality certification, said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
The Chinese jabs have to be subjected to a "certificate of analysis" to confirm that its quality is the same from the previous batches that the country had received, according to Roque.
"We can achieve population protection as we intended specifically for Metro Manila +8 because the numbers are achievable," he told ANC's Headstart.
"I wouldn’t worry about the temporary delay. It should be a day or 2 then we can proceed with vaccination again."
Moreno had made the remark as he said the city no longer has enough supply for its vaccination drive.
"Tomorrow wala kaming bakuna unless may matanggap kami today… 'Wag na kayong umasa na magkaroon ng herd immunity kung ang dating ng bakuna ay panaka-naka 'no, paambon-ambon, hindi na totoo 'yon niloloko na lang natin ang taumbayan no'n," he said.
(We can't hold vaccination tomorrow unless we receive supply today...Don't expect to achieve herd immunity if our supply is intermittent, that's not true. We would just be fooling the public.)
The Philippines has administered 6,096,208 COVID-19 vaccine doses since it started its inoculation program on March 1, government data showed Tuesday.