MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines has fully immunized at least 10 million individuals against the novel coronavirus, Malacañang said on Thursday, the eve of Metro Manila's return to the strictest lockdown level to contain the more contagious Delta COVID-19 variant.
"We have reached a very important milestone in our national vaccination program," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said, 5 months after the inoculation drive started.
"Kung dati-rati po, nagkukumahog kung saan kukuha ng bakuna, ngayon po meron nang 10 milyong Pilipino na meron nang full protection laban sa kalaban natin na COVID-19," he said in a press briefing.
(If before, we scrambled to source vaccines, we now have 10 million Filipinos who've attained full protection against our enemy, COVID-19.)
Authorities on Wednesday administered 576,563 vaccine doses, which raised the total administered jabs to 22,488,705, said the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.
The tally includes some 12.2 million first doses and around 10.2 million second doses, according to a slideshow that NTF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon presented in a separate briefing.
The national government will allot an additional 4 million doses for Metro Manila during the enhanced community quarantine, the toughest of 4 lockdown levels, from Aug. 6 to 20, Roque said.
"Sasamantalahin natin ang ECQ para lalo pa nating mapabilis po ang pagbabakuna," said the official.
(We will take advantage of the ECQ to speed up our vaccination.)
The government aims to vaccinate 58 to 70 million people this year to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 and safely reopen the economy.
The Philippines has recorded more than 1.6 million coronavirus infections, the second highest in Delta-ravaged Southeast Asia, including nearly 28,000 deaths.
So far, it has confirmed more than 200 Delta infections, many of them local cases, and there are fears the more contagious strain could tear through the nation like it has in neighboring countries.
Independent research group OCTA had called for an immediate lockdown in the capital, warning daily cases there could triple to 3,000 by mid-August if action were not taken.
"It could overwhelm (the health care system) in a few days at that rate," Ranjit Rye of OCTA told AFP this week.
Previous lockdowns have already shattered the economy, thrown millions out of work and left many families hungry.
Metro Manila and surrounding provinces were last locked down in March as record infections pushed hospitals to their limit.
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters and Agence France-Presse