âPhilippines herd immunity most likely in 2023â
Individuals under the A4 priority group are inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine as the local government of Quezon City launches their QC ProtekTODO Bakuna Nights program at the city hall open grounds on June 16, 2021. The program aims to inoculate working individuals who cannot visit vaccination sites during the day due to their work schedules.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file

‘Philippines herd immunity most likely in 2023’

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will likely achieve herd immunity by early 2023 even as the government ramps up its purchases of COVID-19 vaccines, an international think tank said.

In its weekly monitor, UK-based Pantheon Macroeconomics said the relatively slow pace of vaccination in the Philippines indicates that early 2023 is the best chance for herd immunity the country can hope for.

This, even as the government recently said it has already secured 113 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from five manufacturers.

In an exchange with The STAR, Pantheon’s senior Asia economist Miguel Chanco said the 113 million doses are only enough to fully vaccinate just 50 percent of the total population.

This is way below the 85 percent threshold that Pantheon thinks is needed to contain the more contagious Delta variant, previously known as the Indian variant.

The Philippines has set an ambitious target of inoculating 70 million Filipinos by year-end, which is about 65 percent of the population.

“We also can’t take for granted that supplies will arrive smoothly. A number of ASEAN countries who have signed purchase agreements far earlier than the Philippines have already complained about delays,” Chanco said.

Latest data from the Department of Health showed that the Philippines has administered some 8.4 million doses.

About two percent or 2.15 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated, while those who were given at least one dose reached 6.25 million or some 5.68 percent of the population.

Further, Chanco said another issue is the capacity of the healthcare system to administer vaccines quickly.

So far, the country has shown a peak rate of roughly 150,000 first doses per day, a rate it has struggled to sustain.

“Rough calculation would show that the Philippines would need to vaccinate around 280,000 people – starting today – if it has any hope of achieving some semblance of herd immunity by the end of this year,” Chanco said.

“At the moment, though, nothing in the data suggests this is possible,” he said.

As COVID-19 vaccination gets delayed, this also means that the economic recovery of the country will likely be derailed.

“Our current forecasts only see real GDP returning to its pre-COVID-19 level by the fourth quarter of 2022,” Chanco said.

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