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PH on track to achieve population protection in 2021

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National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 special medical adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa is confident that the country will achieve population protection this year, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

Herbosa said based on standards, 90 percent of the population should be inoculated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to reach the so-called herd immunity.

“But by inoculating 50 percent of the population, we can achieve population protection. We are confident we can achieve that within the year," he told the Philippine News Agency in an interview Saturday at the arrival of 1,546,200 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility.

Herbosa was joined at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3  by Clare Bea, unit chief of the United States Embassy’s Environment, Science, Technology, and Health; Behzad Noubary, United Nations Children's Fund deputy representative; Raymond Villaroman, AstraZeneca market access lead; and Victor Sepulveda, AstraZeneca head of government affairs.

A few hours earlier, 1,065,600 doses of the same brand, donated by the Japanese government, were also delivered.

On Sunday night, 2,098,980 doses of Pfizer vaccine donated by US, also through the COVAX Facility, will arrive via Silk Way West Airlines flight 7L4765 at NAIA Terminal 2.

As of Friday, 58,212,187 jabs have been administered nationwide, of which 31,408,510 were administered as first dose and 26,803,677 were given as second dose, according to the NTF tracker.

"We are expecting 40 million vaccine doses from November to December. That includes both the procured and donated vaccines. So that (population protection) is achievable," Herbosa added.

Herbosa said the prioritization of delivery also depends on how fast local government units (LGUs) act on their vaccination efforts.

"So even if for instance we committed this number to Calabarzon, but another region's LGU is faster (in its vaccination rollout), then the other LGU will get that allocation first," he said.

If an LGU still has vaccine supplies that could last for about five days, then another LGU would receive the vaccine allocation first, he added.

The government targets to vaccinate between 50 and 70 million by the end of 2021 and up to 80 to 90 million before the May 9, 2022 elections.

By December, the total Covid-19 vaccines received by the Philippines will reach an estimated 190 million doses, Herbosa said.

"For next year, our budget will be allocated for the third dose," he said.

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