The Philippines has shifted its strategy in fighting the coronavirus pandemic from aiming for “herd immunity” to what government health officials described as “population protection.”
The government will also not prioritize the vaccination of people in the national capital and other major cities of the country instead of aiming to inoculate everyone.
The reason for the shift in strategy is the lack of available vaccines, said Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje in a media briefing.
“The term we use is really ‘population protection.’ We prevent hospitalization, we prevent and minimize deaths by prioritizing [areas],” she said.
Cabotaje added that “the bigger the population that is vaccinated, we have population protection, so there will be no more transmission.”
Data from the Department of Health, however, show that the Philippines had so far procured only 8,279,050 vaccine shots, which is enough for a single dose for only 7.54 percent of the population.
About 4.95 million jabs have so far been administered, 3.4 million of them as first dose and the rest as the second shot.
The independent OCTA Research group agreed that inoculating the population of the national capital and other major cities first is “significantly better than the whole of the country approach.”
The group said the government must ramp up its daily vaccinations to achieve its minimum “best goal” to contain virus transmission in the capital by the end of the year.
The Health department recorded 5,310 additional new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, increasing the country’s total case count to 1,193,979.
There were at least 7,408 new recoveries, bringing the number of survivors to 1,127,770. But 150 died, raising the death toll to 20,169.
The deaths and recoveries left 46,037 active cases, of which 92.5 percent were mild, 2.1 percent asymptomatic, 1.7 percent critical, 2.2 percent severe and 1.51 percent moderate.