National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. acknowledged on Thursday night, May 13 that the entire population of the Philippines would have to be vaccinated if it wants to totally eliminate the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Ang sinasabi po ng Israel yung kanilang mga expert po doon, na hindi talaga natin fully mai-eliminate ang disease kung may sizable amount of population na hindi pa po nababakunahan (What the experts in Israel are saying is, we cannot fully eliminate the disease if there is a sizable amount of the population that isn’t vaccinated),” Galvez said in his presentation during President Duterte’s virtual public briefing.
“So ibig sabihin po talaga dapat talaga mabakunahan po natin lahat ang ating mamamayan para po ma-eliminate natin yung disease (So that means we really have to inoculate the entire population in order to eliminate the disease),” he said.
Galvez, designated by Duterte as the vaccine czar, had earlier set a goal of vaccinating 58 million out of the 110 million Filipinos in the country in order to achieve herd immunity.
Herd immunity is an indirect protection that people can have from an infectious disease once an ample portion of the population is inoculated from it.
But due to the limitation of some of the vaccines in the Philippines’ portfolio, adults have monopoly over the priority groups for the anti-COVID jabs. Galvez said this will eventually change.
“Sa Canada po, kanilang binabakunahan ang 12 and above. Sa US (United States), hanggang 16 to 12 ay sisimulan na rin po nila. Meaning, darating po ang araw, talagang bibili pa tayo ng additional vaccines para sa ating lower bracket from 17 to one year old (Canada is inoculating children aged 12 and above. They will start vaccinating children aged 16 to 12 in the US. Meaning, there will come a time when we will buy additional vaccines for our lower age brackets, from 17 to one year old),” he said.
Among the vaccines currently being used in the world, it’s the US-manufactured Pfizer jabs that have reportedly been effective for the lower age brackets.
It was only last Monday, May 10, when the Philippines got hold of its first batch of Pfizer vaccines via the World Health Organization-led Covax facility. The cargo had 193,050 doses.
Galvez bared Thursday morning that the country would get another 2.2 million vaccines from that same brand by the end of May.
For the NTF chief, the plan is simple–attain herd immunity first, then aim for COVID-19’s domestic eradication.
“Ang gagawin po natin, tatargetin po natin yung ginawa ng Israel na nakuha niya yung tinatawag nating more or less 60 percent of its population, makukuha naman natin po yung tinatawag na herd immunity (What we will do is follow the same target as Israel, achieve herd immunity by vaccinating at least 60 percent of its population).
“And then we will inoculate all the Filipino people in order to have yung tinatawag na elimination of disease tulad po ng ginagawa natin sa polio (we will eliminate the disease the same way that we did to polio),” Galvez said.