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50% of Filipinos must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity vs COVID-19

AT least half of the population needs to be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a health official said.

“If we are talking about herd immunity, we need to reach 50% to 60% across the population so it’s really important we expand the coverage,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said in an interview with ANC on Friday.

Herd immunity is when most of the population becomes immune from an infectious disease, either through vaccination or a previous infection, thus indirectly protecting those without immunization.

A Social Weather Stations survey released late Thursday indicates 66% of Filipinos are keen to get experimental COVID-19 vaccines.

The mobile phone survey, conducted September 17 to 20, shows that of the 66% Filipinos who are “willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine if it is available now” consists of 32% who would “definitely” get it and 34% who “probably would.”

Those unwilling are 31%.

Respondents of the non-commissioned survey were 1,249 adult Filipinos with data gathered through mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing.

The government earlier said it will procure 50 million doses, with priority to be given to frontline workers and indigents.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo said on Friday that the President’s approval of protocols for the emergency use of coronavirus vaccines would mean it will be distributed and administered faster.

Mr. Enriquez, in a virtual briefing Friday, explained that the emergency use authorization (EUA) means vaccines could be approved for use before the projected 2021 second quarter timeline.

“Once we are given the authority to issue the EUA, the FDA will come up with the guidelines, the process,” he said. He added that other countries have already issued such approval on certain vaccines.

The Palace on Thursday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved “in principle” the vaccine emergency use and will soon be issuing an executive order, which will cut the approval process of vaccines to 21 days from the usual six months.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 1,639 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total to 415,067, of which 31,805 or 7.7% are active cases.

The DoH also reported an additional 305 new recoveries, putting the tally at 375,237. Newly-reported deaths were 27 for a total of 8,025. Among the active cases, 84.7% were mild , 81.% asymptomatic, 4.5% critical, 2.4% severe, and 0.21% moderate. — Gillian M. Cortez

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