MANILA - Countries need to vaccinate some 85 percent of their population against COVID-19 following the emergence of more transmissible variants, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
The world health body set the target due to the spread of the Delta and Alpha variants, first detected in India and the UK, respectively, said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines.
"We’re looking at approximately 85 percent or beyond. That’s why we now advocate not to talk about herd immunity but talk about how many people can be protected," he told ANC's Headstart.
"As new and more transmissible variants emerge, it means you have to protect a larger proportion of population to achieve what you term 'herd immunity.'"
The WHO said it advocates for countries to inoculate 10 percent of their population by September, 40 percent by yearend, and 70 percent by June next year, said Abeyasinghe.
The Philippines is likely to meet the world health body's goals as it has so far administered at least 10 million first doses, he added.
"We believe you will exceed the 10 percent before September and certainly you may exceed 40 percent threshold before end of year," he said.
Some 2,868,905 Filipinos are fully-protected or have received their second COVID-19 jab as of Sunday, government said. A total of 11,708,029 doses of the anti-virus jabs have been administered in the country, it added.
"It's been remarkable. We're now I think at almost 12 million people vaccinated and the vaccination program which began in March, in just 3 months...if you have vaccines, you can go much faster," Abeyasinghe said.
"We commend the efforts of the government and private sector, everybody who is contributing to try to access vaccines."
Government still needs to "do everything it can do" to prevent virus transmission, Abeyasinghe said.
"We still need to recognize that Philippines like many other countries are at risk of transmission," he said.
"We need a concerted coordinated effort that is synchronized across LGUs that follows national protocols that ensures people with symptoms of disease can access early diagnosis, can be contact traced, quarantined, or can access treatment."