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PH seen taking more than a year to reach immunity goal

An investment banking giant has projected that it would take the Philippines “more than a year” from now to achieve herd immunity, as vaccination rates are “not rising as they should be.”

According to Deutsche Bank Research chief economist Michael Spencer, in general, “the time to immunity is still much longer in poorer economies than [in] advanced [ones].”

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As such, he said, population immunity from COVID-19 was expected to take “more than a year” from now in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Deutsche Bank defined population immunity as having 70 percent of a country’s people acquiring immunity from COVID-19 either through vaccination or by having recovered from the deadly coronavirus.

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“Among Asian emerging economies, the time to immunity varies. China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are likely to get there before yearend. South and Southeast Asian economies (other than Singapore) will likely take much longer,” Spencer said in an April 28 report titled “Time to immunity in Asia.”

“The time to immunity can be shortened by ramping up vaccination efforts, as we are seeing today in China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. But vaccinations are actually falling in India and Malaysia, and are not rising as they should be in Indonesia and the Philippines,” he added.

August target

The Philippines plans to vaccinate 100 percent of its adult population, or about 70 million Filipinos, to achieve herd immunity by yearend.

The country has so far recorded 1,028,738 virus cases with the addition of 8,276 new COVID-19 infections recorded on Thursday.

In its daily case bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said there are currently 69,354 active cases, 94.9 percent of which are mild.

The DOH also reported 6,636 patient recoveries, which brought up the total number of survivors to 942,239. However, 114 patients have died, pushing the death toll to 17,145.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. assured the country of enough vaccine supplies, with more than 140 million doses expected to be procured and received by the end of the year.

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That would be enough to vaccinate 70 percent of the population and possibly establish herd immunity, he added.

Galvez is eyeing August as the start of inoculation among the general population, with the country expecting a steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines from several manufacturers.

“In August, when the vaccines arrive, we can already target the general population,” Galvez said in his report to President Duterte during the televised “Talk to the People on COVID-19” Wednesday night.

The government is expecting four million doses of Sinovac and Gamaleya vaccines in May, which would be used to continue the vaccination of health workers, the elderly and those with comorbidities.

Tight supply from India

In June, 10.35 million doses from Moderna, Sinovac, Gamaleya and AztraZeneca, as well as Pfizer vaccines donated through the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility, would be arriving, Galvez said.

These would be used to start the inoculation of government and economic front-liners and the indigent population.

In July, Galvez said 13.5 million more vaccine doses would be arriving from Sinovac, Gamaleya, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson. These would be followed by 15 million to 20 million doses in August and September, and all the way to the fourth quarter of the year.

The other target adult population would start receiving their shots by August, he added.

In India, drug manufacturers are “ramping up vaccine production to help address both domestic demand and those of the global community,” Galvez said.

He noted that India has “tightened” its vaccine supply to prioritize its domestic demand amid a recent surge of up to 300,000 COVID-19 infections a day.

The Philippines has negotiated 30 million doses of Novavax scheduled for delivery in September and another 8 million doses of Covaxin from India’s Bharat Biotech that was expected to arrive next month through the private-led Go Negosyo, Galvez said.

The Philippines is expecting at least 38 million vaccine doses through bilateral and private sector negotiations from the Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s biggest vaccine makers.

Galvez said the pace of inoculation would be sped up from 500,000 to 1 million per week in April and May, to as many as 2 million or 3 million per week in June and July.

So far, he said, some 1.56 million Filipinos have been vaccinated, of whom some 246,000—all of them health workers—have already received their second shot. Some 240,000 senior citizens and 256,000 persons with comorbidities have gotten their first jab. —With reports from Jerome Aning and Patricia Denise M. Chiu

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: COVID-19, herd immunity, Vaccination
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