Cebu herd immunity far-fetched amid delayed vaccine supply
The World Health Organization describes herd immunity, also known as population immunity, as the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

Cebu herd immunity far-fetched amid delayed vaccine supply

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - May 7, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — While the ultimate goal is to achieve the so-called “herd immunity,” getting there remains a far-fetched prospect for Cebu, at least for now, given the sporadic supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

The World Health Organization describes herd immunity, also known as population immunity, as the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

The organization supports achieving herd immunity through vaccination, not by allowing a disease to spread through any segment of the population, as this would result in unnecessary cases and deaths.

In Central Visayas, Department of Health-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche stressed that herd immunity depends on the supply of vaccines.

“We are dependent on the supplies of vaccines for us to achieve our target by the end of 2021,” she said.

Health authorities have said that at least 70 percent of the population of an area must have been vaccinated to achieve population immunity. In Central Visayas, that translates to more or less 3.5 million people.

But the vaccination numbers here remain low.

According to the Visayas COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center, there were 93,250 (70.4% of the target) people under the A1 priority who have been vaccinated for the first dose as of May 5. Some 39,197 have yet to be vaccinated for the first dose under the A1 priority.

Meanwhile, 93,250 people have also received their second dose. These are the same people from the A1 group who had already received the first shot.

As of May 5, there are 56,998 remaining priority A1 to be vaccinated for the second dose.

As for the A2 priority in the region, 586,231 are eligible for the vaccine but only 2.66% so far or 15,617 have been vaccinated for the first dose as of May 5. This means that there are still about 50,614 people under the A2 group who have yet to get their first dose.

Loreche said that as it stands now, DOH-7 cannot distribute anything without supplies coming in.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that the country has already received 4,040,600 doses of vaccines from three different manufacturers, including Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V. He said the country expects to receive 2 million more doses of Sinovac and 1 to 2 million more doses of Sputnik V today.

Vaccine czar, Sec. Carlito Galvez, had announced earlier the target of achieving herd immunity by end of the year. This pronouncement, however, came with a proviso – that there be no further delays in the delivery of vaccines.

Pfizer Deal

Galvez on Wednesday announced that the government has made successful negotiations with Pfizer.

“For the delivery for May, baka po from 4 million, madagdagan po, magiging 7 million... Malaki po yun. Kasi ang madadagdag po dito ay yung Covax. Maganda po yung negotiation namin with Pfizer. May assurance na po na 1.3 million and darating sa May,” said Galvez.

He said about 193,000 doses of Pfizer are set to arrive for the initial roll-out on May 11.

Some of these doses, he added, will go to Cebu and Davao. These vaccines will be stored inside ultra-freezers.

Galvez said both Cebu and Davao are ready for vaccines that need ultra-cold storage.

If the initial rollout in Cebu and Davao turns out well, the next targets are Ilo-ilo and Bacolod.

Galvez also said the health workers who have opted for Pfizer will be the first on the priority list.

By June, Galvez said, they are expecting to receive 194,000 doses of Moderna, 4.5 million doses of Sinovac, 2 million doses of Sputnik, 1.3 million of AstraZeneca (care of the private sector) and 2,355,210 of doses of Pfizer from the Covax.

Total deliveries for June would be 10,349,210 doses.

For the third quarter, by July, Galvez said there will be 3 million more doses of Sinovac, 4 million doses of Sputnik V, 1 million doses of Moderna, 2 million doses of Novavax, 1.5 million of Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 2 million more doses of AstraZeneca for a total of 13,500,000 doses.

From August to December, the national government expects 15 million to 20 million more doses each month, though no vaccine brands have been specified.

Cebu City

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama said the city is dependent on the national government’s doleout of vaccines as Mayor Edgardo Labella stressed earlier that the city will not use the P400 million fund set aside for vaccines unless government supply runs out.

Rama, however, said the city continues to be in talks with other vaccine brands so that by the time the national government’s supplies are used up, the city will have been ready to choose and sign deals with its brand of choice.

Galvez said Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas are part of the priority in achieving herd immunity.

“As presented last Monday, ang gagawin po nating strategy on allocation uunahin po natin yung tinatawag nating mga urban centers kasi po kapag po nauna ang mga urban centers, mawawala po yung vulnerability ng ating bansa,” he said.

He also explained why Cebu and Davao should be prioritized like Manila.

“Ganun din po yung mga centers ng Cebu at saka Davao, kapag yan po ay na-completely healed natin at nabigyan na ng herd immunity, then there is a possibility na mag-eexpand yung kanyang herd immunity to other areas, mas maganda po. Ang tawag dyan sa military ay center of gravity. Kapag nakuha na natin ang center of gravity, ibig po sabihin nyan, matatapos na po ang giyera,” said Galvez.

Galvez said that if the schedule of vaccine supply and delivery will not be delayed further, herd immunity can be achieved in the country at the end of the year as the general public can already start vaccination by August.

Along with herd immunity is the economic recovery, Galvez added.


Meanwhile, President Duterte has lauded the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, the Department of Health-7 and the private sector stakeholders for the establishment of the Visayas COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center, which is leading the vaccination rollout in the Visayas.

“I am certain that through the dedicated efforts of the men and women of the VVOC, we can ensure the efficient delivery, storage and distribution of the vaccines to various local government units in the Visayas,” said Duterte in his letter dated April 27 addressed to OPAV Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino. — with Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, JMD (FREEMAN)

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