By Deighton Acuin


For Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, it is “baseless” to declare that the Philippines will be the last country in Asia to attain COVID-19 herd immunity.

Speaking in a media forum, Duque chided the “self-proclaimed experts” over a report released by United Kingdom-based think tank Pantheon Macroeconomics that the country will be the last in the continent for such target.

“There is no basis for that statement of the self-proclaimed experts. I don’t know where they are coming from,” Duque said in a press conference.

He noted the targeted daily number of 500,000 administered vaccine doses which is achievable in only 140 days.

“I think they should review their math or their calculator probably doesn’t have good batteries. Now, if we are targeting 70 million Filipinos, you divide that by 500,000 jabs so you will be able to accomplish it in 140 days, it will be exactly 70 million for the first dose,” Duque said.

“And the second dose, you probably need about two, three months because we have to take into consideration that there is a variable time interval between the first and the second doses like AstraZeneca, you need 12 weeks before you can actually jab the second dose,” he added.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disputed the same report, saying the government “will prove them wrong.”

“I think ang basehan kasi ng think tank na ‘yan must have been our pace of vaccination early on na talagang Sinovac lang ang meron tayo at kakaunting AtraZeneca. Pero dumating na nga po ang ating mga bakuna at mas marami pang darating,” he said.

Roque added the government is looking forward to having a mask-less Christmas by this year as more vaccine doses from different manufacturers are expected to arrive.

"Kaya nga po we are aiming for population protection or 'yung containment na sinasabi ni Fr. Austriaco kasi alam natin sa mga bansang nakamit yung containment, hindi na sila nagmamask at least sa outdoors gaya po ng Israel at ibang lugar sa Amerika. That is what we're aiming for. Tama po si Fr. Austriaco, a mask-less Christmas," Roque said.

So far, the Philippines has received 11,000,000 doses from China-based Sinovac Biotech, 2,556,000 doses from British firm AstraZeneca, 2,469,870 doses from United States drugmaker Pfizer-BioNTech, and 180,000 doses from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, bringing the total vaccine inventory 16,205,870 doses.

As of Thursday, June 24, the Department of Health reported 1,378,260 total COVID-19 cases along with 51,401 active cases, 1,302,814 recoveries, and 24,036 deaths.

According to National Vaccination Operations Center, as of June 22, 8,928,249 vaccine doses have been administered in the country of which 6,681,352 individuals have received the first dose while 2,246,897 individuals have completed two doses.