'Bakuna bubble' in NCR for safe business operations, greater mobility proposed

Published August 26, 2021, 1:57 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion has proposed a “bakuna (vaccine) bubble” setup that would allow unvaccinated persons considerable movement and access to establishments within the National Capital Region (NCR).

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion (PCOO/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Under this scheme, Metro Manila malls can allow both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons to enter, while individual shops within the malls–such as restaurants, cafés, salons, gyms, etc., will implement the bakuna bubble, wherein a vaccination card or, in the case of unvaccinated persons, a negative antigen or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result must be presented before they can enter establishments within the malls.

“This is a better approach than continuing to have lockdowns. In this way, we can let businesses open safely with the help of more mobility from both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated,” Concepcion said in a statement Thursday, Aug. 26.

A bakuna bubble, he said, is a safe space where fully-vaccinated persons can freely move around; for instance, from their homes, workplaces, and commercial establishments. But in this scenario, unvaccinated persons also have their own exclusive bubbles and transportation systems to allow them to move, but only from their homes to their workplaces and back.

Concepcion said the measures are also meant to be sustainable even as quarantine classifications change “since we have already set up the safeguards to protect both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.”

He said the measures are also scalable since it will also allow for adjustments in capacity when quarantine classifications change.

The bakuna bubble proposal is actually an update of Concepcion’s pitch last Monday to create a travel bubble for the vaccinated and unvaccinated where the latter will be allowed to travel from home to the workplace.

Concepcion emphasized that the new scheme will be implemented only in the NCR as the supply of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines are concentrated in the Philippines’s capital region, and that current data point to having a 50 percent fully-vaccinated population in NCR by the end of August.

The bakuna bubble would have to be approved first by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF.

“With the help of Sen. Bong Go, and with the inputs of Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra, Chairman Abalos and I felt that this is the best way to effectively implement the ‘bakuna bubble’ proposal,” said Concepcion. The proposal was also explained to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

The proposal was put forward as a way to safely reopen the economy while protecting the unvaccinated. Recent data has shown that unvaccinated persons accounted for the majority of those who were hospitalized for COVID-19 in NCR.

With the spread of the Delta variant, the country’s health care system may be overwhelmed if the infections continue unabated.

These measures, Concepcion said, are only to mitigate the damage caused by the pandemic and are not meant to be permanent. “As vaccinations continue to roll out, we can expect people to have more mobility and still be protected from severe infections,” he said.