MANILA — Areas must "unfortunately" experience surges in COVID-19 cases before they could get additional coronavirus vaccines from the national government, Malacañang said on Thursday, as it acknowledged that the Philippine supply of jabs remained insufficient.
The government last week identified 10 areas that would get more COVID-19 shots, following an an uptick in infections. Authorities previously prioritized Metro Manila, the epicenter of the outbreak, and 8 other areas, in the vaccine distribution.
Asked if areas must experience a wave of infections before they move up the prioritization, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said, "Unfortunately, yes, because of limited supply."
"Ang katotohanan, hindi po sapat ang bakuna sa ngayon. Lahat po ng ating mga kababayan ay nagsasabi, kulang po ang bakuna," he said in a press briefing.
(The truth is for now, the vaccines are not enough. All our compatriots are saying the vaccines are insufficient.)
Metro Manila and the first 8 priority areas got more vaccines "not only because of the higher cases there, but also because of the higher population," said Roque.
"We ask your indulgence po because unfortunately, we do not manufacture the vaccines. Mayroon po talagang scarcity of supply worldwide," he said.
(There really is a scarcity of supply worldwide.)
"Humihingi po kami ng pasensya dahil iyan po ang realidad. We cannot do anything about it," added the Palace official.
(We ask for patience because that is the reality. We cannot do anything about it.)
The Philippines has taken delivery of some 17.4 million COVID-19 shots, at least 10 million of which have been administered as of June 27.
The government aims to immunize at least 58 million of its 110 million population this year to safely reopen the economy.
The Philippines has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. Last year, the Philippines recorded its worst post-war economic slump, after the pandemic lockdowns left businesses struggling and millions without jobs.
Video courtesy of PTV