MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said Filipinos should not expect the country to return to normal any time soon due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will not be able to return to the old norm. Mga ano pa siguro two to three years. Pero ‘pag ang mga tao mag — nandiyan ang bakuna, magpabakuna na kaagad. At least ma-minimize na and we can achieve the herd immunity, which is a long shot. But we can attain it with the help of the people and if God helps us, we can have a steady supply of vaccines," Duterte said.
The President earlier said Filipinos may see some sense of normalcy by 2023.
Duterte, meanwhile, reiterated vaccines are the solution against COVID-19.
Since the rollout of its inoculation program last March 1, at least 20 million people in the country have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 22.5 million have received their first shot.
Seven million residents in Metro Manila, the Philippines's COVID-19 epicenter, are among the fully immunized, representing about 71.86 percent of the capital region's target, Malacañang said earlier in the day.
Citing vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Duterte said that "we will get a total of at least 100 million doses by the end of October, which means that maybe we can expand the vaccination program to the general population and hopefully also our children within October."
Duterte issued a harsh message for government workers who refuse to get their COVID-19 shots.
“Ayaw mo magpabakuna, umalis ka. Go out of government. Why? Because when you are with the government you face people, people transact business officials, well, audiences or visits," he said.
The government aims to fully inoculate more than 77 million individuals to achieve herd immunity against the deadly pathogen in the Philippines, which is fighting one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks.
— Report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News