A public health expert on Wednesday, May 19, has backed the government’s target to inoculate a significant population in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces to achieve NCR Plus herd immunity.
In an interview with ANC, Dr. Tony Leachon said the Philippines’ current rate of vaccinating 75,000 to 80,000 Filipinos daily will not be enough to achieve the target herd immunity by December this year.
He added that it could take up to five years for the country to inoculate 70 percent of its population.
“If we will consider the original plan of Secretary Galvez of having the herd immunity at around December of 2021, 70 million of the population, we will not be able to do that,” Leachon added.
He noted that the country has so far vaccinated 675,000 Filipinos or .61 percent of the population.
“We have only 7.8 million doses of vaccines in our warehouse that will account for 3.53 percent. We need around 625,000 doses daily or eight times our current rate to reach this,” Leachon said.
The best approach is to achieve the NCR Plus herd immunity first, according to Leachon.
“This is the business epicenter and this would also comprise also 70 percent of the cases and we cannot really transfer vaccines outside of Manila because of the lack of cold chain infrastructure in those areas,” Leachon.
NCR Plus is comprised of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal.
“In the NCR Plus, 26 million [population], the 70 percent of that is 18 million, I think this is doable if we will focus on the contagion center and business epicenter,” he added.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the national government targets to administer enough anti-COVID-19 shots to achieve herd immunity in the NCR and nearby provinces by November.
Galvez said they aim to vaccinate 120,000 people daily in the NCR Plus bubble to attain herd containment in virus epicenter Metro Manila.