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Manila Bulletin - 2021-05-05

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Here’s how gov’t is planning to achieve herd immunity vs. COVID-19

National News

By MARTIN A. SADONGDONG

Six key factors will help the national government achieve its goal of herd immunity by the end of the year, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. bared late Monday night, May 3. This, as the vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 remained optimistic that the government would be able to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos to attain herd immunity against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). “Marami po ang nagdududa na hindi natin makakaya ang herd immunity. Marami po talagang... lalo na sa iba na nagku-kwestyon na ‘di natin magagawa ang herd immunity. Pero nagkaroon na po kami ng simulation kasama ang private sector (Many people are doubting if we can really achieve herd immunity. Many are questioning if we can do herd immunity. But we have already conducted a simulation together with the private sector),” Galvez said during President Duterte’s “Talk to the People” public address. According to medical experts, herd immunity is a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population has been inoculated and becomes immune to an infectious disease. According to Galvez, the first key factor in achieving herd immunity is administering of 500,000 vaccine doses per day, or three million doses per week. Currently, the average daily vaccination stands at around 30,000 persons, he noted. “Kailangan po mayroon tayong 500,000 jabs per day. Kaya po natin ‘yan dahil ang jab sites ay 5,000 so 100 jabs per day kayang kaya po natin ‘yan (We need to do 500,000 jabs per day. We can do it because we have 5,000 jab sites so if we have 100 jabs [per site] per day, we can easily achieve it),” he said. The second key factor is the delivery of 15 million doses per month to the country--something that could be a challenge due to the prevailing shortage in the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines. But Galvez assured Duterte and the public that there will be a scale up in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly CoronaVac jabs from its Chinese manufacturer Sinovac Biotech and Sputnik V vaccines from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute. “Kaming nasa procurement, DOF [Department of Finance] at diplomatic corps natin, iyon ang gusto natin makuha. Every month maiangat natin ng 15 million. Sa June maiangat ng 10 million, sa July 15 million hanggang December (We at the procurement team, the DOF and the diplomatic corps, that’s what we want. Every month, we need to raise the supply by 15 million [doses]. In June, we will raise it by 10 million, and 15 million in July up to December),” he noted. According to Galvez, the third key factor has already been achieved, and this is the establishment of 5,000 vaccination sites nationwide. The national government is also partnering with the private sector to put up mega vaccination sites in malls and other private establishments to increase the daily vaccination rate. Building up the country’s clinical staffing is the forth key factor. Galvez said the country needs to have 25,000 to 50,000 vaccinators. The fifth key factor refers to the country’s “productivity”, and the vaccine czar has set a deadline for the country to achieve herd immunity within 213 days starting in June. The sixth and last key factor is the strict adherence to the priority list in the inoculation program. Despite the limited supply of vaccines, Galvez said the vaccination of healthcare workers (A1 priority), senior citizens (A2), and persons with comorbidity (A3) would be finished in June. Meanwhile, the inoculation of frontline workers in essential sectors (A4) and the indigent population (A5) will also commence in June. The general population’s turn to get the jab will likely take place in August.

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