Health Secretary Francisco Duque told legislators Thursday that herd immunity was possible by the first quarter of 2022—with at least 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses being administered daily.
“Supply permitting and assuming there will be about 500,000 to 600,000 doses jabbed per day, the conservative estimate is, we might be able to achieve herd immunity sometime… second month of the first quarter of 2022,” Duque said during the deliberations for the DOH’s proposed P242.22-billion allocation.
In fact, the Health chief said, the Department of Finance had reported to President Duterte that 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were expected to arrive by the end of 2021.
“Having said that, it will exceed our herd immunity target of 77 million Filipinos, about 70 percent of the population, so we are confident that excess doses will be sufficient to cover those not belonging to the herd immunity population as identified,” he said.
This also includes the inoculation of children.
“The VEP and the all experts group are working on this double time and hopefully next week they will be able to give us the technical report that will [determine] a policy amendment which means we can start inoculating children,” he said.
But Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said discussing herd immunity at this time was premature; but instead discussions on having a third dose of vaccine should be the concern of Duque.
“Let’s do away with the discussion of herd immunity as of the moment but let’s discuss the importance of a third dose,” Garin, former Health secretary, said.
“Herd immunity means you can no longer infect others and many of those vaccinated would not be infected, This is science,” she added.
As of Aug. 29, around 33,099,392 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered nationwide, based on the presentation made by NTF Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
Around 13,784,681 people have been fully vaccinated, while some 19,317,711 people have already received the first dose.
The government’s 76.3 million target to achieve herd immunity.
In related developments, the government said Pfizer-BioNTech continued to keep its commitment of providing a steady supply of vaccines to the Philippines with its delivery of 703,170 doses on Wednesday.
This latest delivery is the fifth shipment from the US-based pharmaceutical firm and is part of the five million doses that the government expects to receive this month from the company.
Of the 703,170 doses, 51,480 shots were delivered to Cebu City while another 51,480 doses will be shipped to Davao City.
The remaining 600,210 doses were brought to the Pharmaserv Express’ cold-chain facility in Marikina City for temporary storage.
“Majority of the allocation will be given to provinces and those affected regions, specially Region 4-A, Region 3, Region 1, Region 2, Region 7, Region 11, Region 6, Region 8, Region 9 — those areas that are heavily affected by COVID-19,” Galvez said during the arrival of the vaccine shipment at the Manila airport.
Galvez said that some of these vaccines will be deployed to areas which have not yet received Pfizer vaccines, as this will prepare the local government units for the arrival of bigger shipments from Pfizer in the coming months.
“Those areas that have never been reached by Pfizer because we wanted all municipalities and have that sort of dry run so that when the majority of the Pfizer vaccines will come by October. More or less 10 million will be delivered each month during October, November, and December,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the Quezon City government reported it had vaccinated over 1.7 million residents and workers with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or 100 percent of its target.
Mayor Joy Belmonte said she appreciated the active participation of the residents and workers in the city’s inoculation program.
“I am proud that our QC residents and workers are one with us to achieve population protection. We thank them for their patience and cooperation throughout the entire vaccination process,” she added.
As of Aug. 31, the QCProtekTodo vaccination program was able to inoculate 1,701,211 individuals exceeding its target of 1.7 million individuals or 80 percent of its adult population to achieve population protection.
Some 750,419 individuals (46.72 percent) were vaccinated with their second doses bringing the total number of fully vaccinated individuals, including Janssen-vaccinated individuals, to 844,149.
In total, the city government has administered 2,451,630 vaccine doses from March to August 2021.