Pandemic 'still a long, enduring' battle even after vaccines arrive, says official

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2020 02:46 PM

Passersby traverse the Antonio Rivera street adorned with parols in Manila, Nov. 9, 2020. Christmas celebrations in the country are expected to be toned down this year, with social gatherings virtually prohibited and millions financially affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Philippines will continue waging "a long and enduring battle" with the coronavirus pandemic even after a vaccine arrives, an official said Friday, some 8 months into varying degrees of lockdown meant to curb the crisis. 

The Philippines, which has the second highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, plans to procure an initial 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. With 2 doses required per person, this means that only a quarter of the 108 million population will get inoculated next year.
 

Vaccination drives for COVID-19 will continue until 2022, said Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who heads efforts to trace those who had contact with coronavirus patients. 

"This will still be a long and enduring battle. Looking at the latest development sa vaccine, I don't think we'll be able to immunize everyone dito sa Pilipinas (here in the Philippines) by 2021," he said in a public briefing. 

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President Rodrigo Duterte has "approved in principle" an executive order so that vaccines which are approved for emergency use abroad may be utilized in the Philippines after a 21-day verification, down from the current required 6-month check, his spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday.

Duterte also agreed to pay in advance "because if we don't, we might be the last among countries to get the vaccine," Roque told reporters. 

The government is in talks with several vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, said National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 policy chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. 

Pfizer said Wednesday that final results from the late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine showed it was 95-percent effective, and that it would apply for emergency US authorization within days.

Moderna, meanwhile, on Monday said its vaccine was 94.5-percent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial.

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