MANILA - Metro Manila and 8 other key economic hubs will achieve herd immunity by Christmas if the Delta COVID-19 variant first detected in India does not spread locally, OCTA Research Group said Sunday.
The Philippines has so far reported 17 cases of the Delta variant, including 1 death. The country has yet to report community transmission of the said variant, said molecular biologist Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, member of OCTA Research Group.
Government, meantime, has administered 8.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as of June 22, with 2,246,897 individuals or 3.87 percent fully vaccinated out of its target 58 million.
"Given the numbers, our hope that we will reach herd immunity in NCR Plus 8 (National Capital Region Plus 8) by Christmas is reasonable. This does not take into effect the Delta variant," Austriaco told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
"The best vaccine is the vaccine offered to you today. Any protection is better than no protection."
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said it aims to vaccinate at least 108,000 people a day in Metro Manila, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao as more shots arrive.
It identified 10 more areas that are experiencing rise in COVID-19 infections, namely, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Baguio, Zamboanga, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, General Santos, Naga, Legazpi, and Iloilo City, that will be included in the COVID-19 vaccination priority.
The country also has to prepare against a possible Delta variant surge as it has been observed that there is a rise in COVID-19 cases when new variants arrive, Austriaco said.
"Over the past year and a half, we have a surge when there's a new variant. It's now coming down after the arrival of Alpha and Gamma variants. Now we have to protect ourselves against Delta," he said.
The OCTA Research Group will likely release its recommendation for Metro Manila's community quarantine status later Sunday or Monday, he said.