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Gov’t eyes ‘elimination’ of COVID-19 in 2022, vaccination for general public in April, May

The Philippine government seeks to “eliminate” COVID-19 in 2022, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday as he vowed ramped up vaccination in the coming months with the expected arrival of millions of doses.

“Kailangan talaga ‘yung ating gagawin, ‘yung 2021 ito ang gagawin nating containment process, ibig sabihin, makakuha tayo ng herd immunity. But sa 2022, government will be looking on the elimination of COVID,” Galvez said in a briefing.

(What we really need to do in 2021 is the containment process, meaning achieving herd immunity. But in 2022, the government will be looking at the elimination of COVID.)

Galvez said the government aims to secure a “steady supply” of vaccine doses starting April.

“Ang ginagawa nga namin ay magkaroon kami ng steady supply ng at least 4 million para at least, meron kaming 1 million per week. Next, sa May, ang balak namin iaangat namin ‘yung ano [to] 2 million per week. ‘Yun ang target. Sa June, gagawa tayo ng target, another 3 million per week,” he explained.

(What we’re doing is getting a steady supply of at least 4 million doses so that we have 1 million per week. Next, in May, our plan is to increase it to 2 million per week. That’s the target. In June, we’ll target another 3 million per week.)

The vaccine czar expressed confidence that the general population will start getting their COVID-19 shots in late April or early May.

The 1,125,600 doses that have arrived in the Philippines so far are reserved for health workers, the top priority in the vaccination program.

A total of 215,997 doses have been administered as of March 15.

More doses

Galvez said the country will receive 1.4 million Sinovac doses and almost 1 million more AstraZeneca jabs this month.

The Philippines has also closed a deal for 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by American firm Novavax. 

Galvez said the government is still in talks with manufacturers for a bigger supply of vaccines.

“Kinausap na po namin ‘yung Sinovac na yung sa kanilang April na 1.5 million, gusto namin po na maging 2 million ‘yung kanilang delivery at gano’n din sa ibang mga companies na makakakuha po kaming ng additional,” he said.

(We spoke to Sinovac to ask them to increase their shipment of 1.5 million doses in April to 2 million. We’ve done this with other companies that can give us additional doses as well.)

Citing logistics experts, Galvez said the global vaccine supply is expected to ease up in May, June, or July as the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe achieve herd immunity.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the Philippines can reach herd immunity by vaccinating 450,000 people daily.  — BM, GMA News