By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Daily Tribune

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday the Philippines can achieve a herd immunity of 70 million people within a year if the country can cater 450,000 a day.

During the media forum following the launch of the European Union’s (EU) three-year grant of $130 million for Philippine pandemic response support, Duque said in order to reach the goal, there should be 4,500 sites for vaccination to cater 100recipients per day.

“That (achieving herd immunity) is dependent on the supply of the vaccines. If we have the 140 million thereabouts of doses of vaccines, it would probably take 11 to 12 months to do that,” Duque said.

“Perhaps five to six months for the first dose and four to five months for the second dose.”

“So that’s 450,000 a day. So you divide 70 million Filipinos to be vaccinated equivalent to herd immunity, it will take you about 159 days and if you divide that by 26 days, assuming Sundays are off, so that’s six days a week, so you’ll do it in five to six months for the first dose and four to five months for the second dose,” Duque added.

As of March 13, the government’s vaccination program has inoculated 193,492 individuals. The program was started last March 1 following the arrival of donated coronavirus vaccines developed by China-based Sinovac Biotech.

On the other hand, some 487,200 doses developed by British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca arrived in the country on March 7, followed by additional 38,400 doses on March 7. The AstraZeneca jabs were provided through World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility, a global sharing pool aiming for equitable vaccine distributions in all countries.

Health care workers are being prioritized in the vaccine rollout but the vaccination for the general public is expected to start between late April and early May.

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