The start of the general public’s inoculation against the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) could happen earlier by one or two months as previously thought.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, reported this to President Duterte during the latter’s “Talk to the Nation” address on Monday night, May 10, as he cited the positive output in the delivery of vaccines to the Philippines.
“With the output ng ating deliveries, we are very confident na by June or July we can have a target output na at least mayroong 25 million vaccines. Once nakuha ‘yan, magiging literal na po ang vaccination, meaning we can already have the vaccination of the general public (With our delivery output, we are very confident that we can have a target output of at least 25 million vaccines by June or July. Once we have it, the vaccination will be literal, meaning we can already have the vaccination of the general public),” Galvez said.
This target date was ahead of the previous goal set by Galvez. On April 17, the official said that the inoculation of the general public might begin in August.
Galvez attributed the adjustment to the recent deliveries of 1.5 million Sinovac vaccines and two million AstraZeneca jabs through the Covax facility last week, which raised the total domestic supply to 7,571,000 doses. Of these, more than four million have already been distributed to 3,410 vaccination sites across the country.
With the availability of more doses, Galvez said the vaccination program is seen to pick up its pace and hopefully lead to the “sooner” achievement of herd immunity.
From a daily vaccination average of 34,418, he said the average nearly doubled to 65,879 from May 1 to May 3.
At present, those belonging to the A1 to A3 priority groups are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. These include frontline health workers, senior citizens, and persons with co-morbidities. There were also around 8,000 individuals belonging to the A4 priority or economic frontliners who were vaccinated on Labor Day last May 1.
As of May 9, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that a total of 1,957,965 Filipinos have already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 451,270 more had been given their second dose.
The government aims to vaccinate 58 million Filipinos in “focus” and “expansion” areas in order to achieve herd immunity. These represent the places that were hardest hit by the pandemic and those with “economic and social importance”.
The “focus areas” include Metro Manila plus the six provinces around it namely Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal; as well as Cebu and Davao.
Meanwhile, the “expansion areas” include:
1. Central Luzon (Region 3), Region 4, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio City, Zamboanga City;
2. Bacolod, Iloilo, General Santos City, Iligan, Central Visayas (Region 7), Davao (Region 11);
3. Northern Mindanao (Region 10), Western Visayas (Region 6), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9), Cagayan Valley (Region 2), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR);
4. Bicol (Region 5), Ilocos (Region 1), Soccsksargen (Region 12 or South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City), and Caraga (Region 13).
For the rest of this month, the government is expecting the delivery of 193,000 doses of Pfizer on Monday night, May 10; another 1.1 million doses of Pfizer; 500,000 doses of Sinovac; and two million doses of Sputnik V from Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia.
In June, the expected deliveries include 1.1 million doses of Pfizer; 4.5 million doses of Sinovac; 250,000 doses of Moderna; 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca; and two million doses of Sputnik V.
Once the vaccine deliveries are completed within these months, Galvez said the total vaccine supply will reach 20,514,000.
“Immaterial na po ang priorities dahil mayroon na pong saktong bakuna (The priority groups will be immaterial by then because we already have enough supply of vaccines),” he said.