MANILA - Instead of being mad at a study that ranked the Philippines second to the last among 53 economies in terms of COVID-19 resilience, the government should just step up, a senator said Thursday.
Bloomberg published an index that looked into the number of people who have been vaccinated in a country, severity of lockdowns, and COVID-19 positivity rate, among others. The Philippines ranked 52nd.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said the ranking was "very unfair" and used parameters that were "skewed" to countries with a high vaccination rate.
"If you look at the parameters that you enumerated, these are so skewed to a high vaccination rate. I’ll be the first one to admit that we don’t have enough vaccines to give a population protection rate of 50 percent. We’re only 3 point plus percent for fully immunized individuals," he told ANC's Headstart.
Duque argued that rich countries secured 80 percent of the global supply of vaccines and middle income countries were left "scrambling and almost begging" for these COVID-19 shots.
"It is very unfair and it is only showing that those countries that have already been vaccinated and reached a population protection of more than 50 percent, they’re saying, we’re ok now, you can come, maayos na kami dito (we're orderly here), our doors are open, balik na kayo. That’s unfair, that’s very unfair and I’m really pissed with this kasi hindi naman tama (because that's not right)," he said.
He added, it is "unethical" for the rich countries to even be considering rolling out booster shots to their citizens when many people in other parts of the world are still without vaccines.
But Sen. Risa Hontiveros said it's not Duque who should be angered by the study, but the citizens because the report was "just the latest reflection of the truth on the ground."
"Ang talagang nakakabuwisit, nakakadismaya sa mamamayan (What's really annoying and disheartening on citizens) is the very poor health response and twinning that, the poor economic response," she said in a separate interview on ANC's Headstart.
"Sisisihin pa ba natin ang Bloomberg?(Should we blame Bloomberg?) They're just doing their duty as a very dispassionate, hard-nosed economic publication and monitor. Rather than getting mad at Bloomberg, we should step up," she said.
The opposition lawmaker said vaccination administration was actually already the fifth in the COVID-19 response. She said the Philippines has not even "come up to speed" with the first 4 steps--testing, tracing, isolating, and treating infected patients.
"Hindi naman Bloomberg, ang ika nga nag-drop ng ball. (It's not Bloomberg that dropped the ball) I'm sorry, it was the health department, under the leadership of the good Secretary, that has been dropping the ball so far," she said.
The Philippines is currently rolling out its vaccination program, with at least 10 million doses administered as of Wednesday, according to a monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group. About 2.5 million individuals have been fully immunized according to the same report.
The Department of Health on Wednesday listed 4,509 newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases, raising the cumulative total to 1,412,559, with 48,649 still active infections.