MANILA - Herd immunity against COVID-19 is now "a very long-term goal" after the COVID-19 Delta variant affected the efficacy of vaccines, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
The emergence of the more virulent Delta variant "has really affected everything," Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
"Herd immunity has been affected... That is really a very long-term goal among all the countries in the world," she said.
"What we are trying to achieve right now is population protection," she said.
The national government earlier said the Philippines might attain herd immunity against COVID-19 this year if the country is on track to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population.
But the government later revised its goals, and instead targeted attaining population protection or the full vaccination of healthcare workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities against COVID-19.
"Ang sinasabi sa atin ng mga eksperto, hindi na lang 70 percent ng herd immunity ang kailangan natin. Kailangan natin ng mas mataas it can be 80 or 90 percent dahil bumababa ang efficacy ng bakuna," Vergeire said.
(Our experts are saying that we need to vaccinate more than 70 percent. We need a higher vaccination rate around 80 or 90 percent because the efficacy of the vaccines have dropped.)
"Kaya ang naging re-strategy natin (Our new strategy now is)... let's just achieve population protection at this point because we know that the vaccines had been affected by this Delta variant," she said.
The DOH earlier said it expects the National Capital Region to attain population protection by November.
As of September 1, 2021, the Philippines has fully vaccinated 14.1 million people, while 20 million others have received their first dose.