A maskless December?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - June 25, 2021 - 12:00am

"They're wrong!" This is the emphatic assertion of the Palace on the statement of UK-based think tank Pantheon Macroeconomics that the Philippines will be one of the last countries in Asia to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 because its "mass vaccination has lagged behind its neighbors’ vaccination campaigns." Of course, the Palace bristled at the analysis as it never wants to hear criticism of any kind, especially from foreigners.

Roque explains the basis for Pantheon's statement may stem from the initial days when Sinovac and AstraZeneca were the only vaccines entering the country in trickles. The supply of vaccines has improved since then with the entry of Sputnik, Pfizer, and Moderna. Roque goes further by predicting face masks will no longer be required by December when around 50% of the population has been vaccinated by then. Roque claims that 350,000 people are being vaccinated every day. Really?

Let's look at the data. The Philippines was third from the bottom on June 20, 2021. Around 5.71% of the population received at least one vaccine dose. Next is Myanmar and the bottom dweller is Vietnam. Herd immunity is based on the percentage of the population vaccinated and not quantity. The Palace defended the country by saying Singapore had a smaller population than the Philippines which is why they were able to vaccinate the population faster. But that's the point, isn't it? Vaccinating a big percentage of the population, not necessarily raw numbers. Singapore was number one with 50.79% on June 21, 2021, Hong Kong was second with 26.66% on June 22 and Cambodia was third with 21.04% likewise on June 22. All data provided can be seen at ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations if one would want to verify.

On June 20, about 6.25 million people in the country have been vaccinated with at least one dose. If the Palace claims more than 350,000 people are vaccinated daily, the number should increase by more than three-and-a-half million people or a little under ten million total by the end of the month. We can then see if the government's vaccination program is on track for a maskless December. The DOH recently said Metro Manila is now at lower risk for COVID-19 infection, with the problem now shifting to Visayas and Mindanao. Unless the vaccination program curtails the spike in these areas, I doubt that we will have a maskless December. Unless we go through a similar confusion on the wearing of face shields.

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