The country remains ill-prepared to vaccinate its citizens against COVID-19 as it falls on its target to vaccinate 120,000 people a day to achieve herd immunity by the end of this year, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, May 16.
Citing a herd immunity tracker on Twitter, Robredo said that at the rate the country is going, it will take five years to reach herd immunity.
Although Robredo did not cite him, Edson Guido (#statslookandlisten), who is a doctoral degree candidate in economics at the University of the Philippines, said that it will take the Philippines until November 2026 if it will continue to administer only 67,780 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine every day.
“We cannot wait for five and a half years, so if we need five and a half years before we reach herd immunity, people will not have anything to eat anymore because we cannot reopen the economy,” Robredo said in Filipino during her weekly radio show.
“At the rate we are going mahirap itong ma-reach (it will be difficult to reach),” she vice president added.
The run-up to November should see the country vaccinating 690,000 every day, but Guido’s data on Thursday, May 13, showed that the Philippines will be the last in Southeast Asia to reach herd immunity with only 67,780 doses administered a day.
According to the data, which is based on Bloomberg’s metrics, Singapore will be the first one to achieve herd immunity in four months, followed by Cambodia in 16 months, Myanmar in 18 months, Laos in 2.2 years, Malaysia in 2.8 years, Brunei in 4.2 years, Indonesia in 4.5 years, Thailand in 5.4 years, Vietnam in 5.8 years, and the Philippines in 6.4 years.
Robredo criticized the government for being ill-prepared in its vaccination rollout program.
She said that even with more than seven million various COVID-19 doses available for inoculation, the probability that the vaccines not being administered before the expiration dates could happen.
“May danger na mag-expire kasi hindi pa tayo handa sa rollout (There is a danger for the vaccines to get expired because we are not ready with the rollout),” Robredo lamented, adding that this is inexcusable because the country had time to prepare.
Reports said that some vaccine doses are already nearing their expiration dates as critics pushed the Department of Health (DOH) to administer the vaccines quicker.
Robredo recalled her reminder to the DOH to train vaccinators as early as last year before the vaccines started arriving in the country.
It would do the country no good to have a supply of vaccines but no vaccinators to administer them, the lady official explained.
The country currently has a supply of Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the vaccine rollout statistics released by the DOH as of May 11, the country is vaccinating an average of 67,780 individuals a day with 83 percent of the current doses distributed to vaccination sites.