Population protection vs COVID-19 achieved by December, Palace assures

Published June 14, 2021, 3:14 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang remained confident that the country can achieve population protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by the end of the year.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement despite government data showing that only 1,855,472 individuals have been fully vaccinated as of June 13.

In his press briefing on Monday, June 14, Roque expressed confidence that the government will be able to achieve its goal of population protection before the year ends despite the slow progress in the vaccination program.

“Kaya po (We can achieve it). We do not dispute the percentage and we never claimed na malaki na yung percentage (that the percentage was high already),” he said.

“Yung actual numbers ngayon ay almost 7 million na (The actual number now is almost 7 million now) and that makes us the second-highest number of doses administered in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” he added.

Population protection targets to vaccinate the members of the population who are more susceptible to the disease and are likely to show severe symptoms. The government’s overall goal is to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the mass population within the year.

Roque said achieving the target was possible considering the country managed to vaccinate 300,000 Filipinos in one day.

“Hindi po ‘yan malayo sa sinasabi nating kinakailangan natin ng 500,000 doses per day para makamit po yung population protection by December (That’s not far off from the 500,000 doses per day that we need to achieve population protection by December),” he said.

Government data showed that 6,870,054 vaccine doses have been administered while 1,855,472 individuals have been fully vaccinated as of June 13, 2021.

Early this month, Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez said achieving population protection among adults by August was feasible. He, however, pointed out that the vaccine hesitancy rate of 49 percent was worrisome.

Roque said the government has intensified its information drive to quell the public’s concerns about the coronavirus shots.

“‘Yan (Hesitancy) po ngayon ay subject ng intensified communication campaign ng gobyerno (Hesitancy is the subject of the intensified communication campaign of the government), DOH (Department of Health), Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office), and even the private sector,” he said.

“Kasi nga po, kung hindi natin ma-a-achieve ang (This is because if we cannot achieve) population protection, no one will be safe,” he added.

Instead of herd immunity, the Department of Health (DOH) said last month that the country was now eyeing “population protection” against COVID-19 before the end of the year.

In an online interview last month, Vice President Leni Robredo said there was nothing wrong with the government eyeing population protection but wondered why they would settle with it.

“Nakita ko yung schedule ng pagdating ng mga vaccines. Attainable siya (herd immunity) as long as we prepare for it. Para sa akin hindi siya imposible (I saw the schedule of the arrival of vaccines. Herd immunity is attainable as long as we prepare for it. I don’t think it’s impossible),” she said.

“Okay naman yung sinasabi nilang (I’m fine with) population protection but why settle for less if we can do more?” she added.