THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - April 21, 2021 - 12:00am

President Duterte and Sec. Carlito Galvez both laud the Philippines' "good record" in COVID-19 vaccination, citing the country is third among Southeast Asian countries in the number of people vaccinated. Indonesia gains the top spot with Singapore second. More than 1.4 million have been vaccinated in the country. But this ranking is not based on the country's population but only on the number of those given the first shot of the vaccine. Most vaccines require two shots.

If we look at the percentage of those who received the first dose of vaccine based on population, the Philippines is in sixth place among ASEAN countries. For every 100 people, only 1.33 have been inoculated. Singapore is first with 28.5 per one hundred people. One can argue Singapore's number is high because it has a smaller population, and you would be correct. But isn't the goal of the government the vaccination of at least 70% of the population to achieve herd immunity and slow down the spread of COVID-19? It turns out only 1.1% of our population has received the first jab of the vaccine. Singapore is at 19.3%. All of this data can be found at ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations if anyone is interested, or want to verify what I have written.

Naturally, the government will show the better position of the Philippines to say they are doing a good job. I'll give them that, but on the other hand, the numbers do not lie. It all boils down to the acquisition of vaccines. Singapore is a rich country so it is not surprising they hold the top spot. The vaccines they acquired were Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna which have not even entered the country. If the government's frequent statement of having borrowed billions of pesos for the vaccine is true, where are they? The government in turn blames the difficulty in the acquisition of vaccines on rich countries hoarding them for their citizens. The WHO has already condemned the hoarding of vaccines, and this has fallen on deaf ears. This is why we have COVAX to ensure all countries can somehow get a vaccine, even how little.

The government claims a larger number of vaccines are arriving this third quarter of the year. That's around September. So we can only hope and wait and more importantly, continue following the minimum health protocols of wearing masks, hand sanitizing, and physical distancing especially when there is a clamor to remove quarantines and fully open up the economy. Something medical experts have always dreaded as it only initiates a vicious cycle of infections, quarantine, and a dead economy.

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