Gov't eyes herd immunity in NCR, nearby areas by November

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 4) — The government targets to administer enough anti-coronavirus shots to achieve herd immunity in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces by November, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said on Tuesday.

Galvez said they aim to at least hit this goal, should supply issues pose problems in reaching herd immunity on a national scale by year-end.

“Kung nakikita natin na [If we’re seeing that] realistically, we will have a shortfall of supply, we need to strategize that we will get the same effect,” he said in a Palace briefing.

“We can have the herd immunity sa NCR and the plus six provinces around NCR by November,” Galvez continued. He did not specify the provinces, but areas in Calabarzon, including Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, which have also been recording a significant number of COVID-19 cases have been placed under the same bubble as the capital region.

The government hopes to inoculate 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 this year, but it has also set a “realistic” range that at least 50 to 70 million will get vaccinated.

“With the constrictions of the global market, lalo na ‘yung nangyayari sa India na nandoon ‘yung 30 million natin na mga vaccine na kinuha, there’s a possibility talaga na magkaroon ng delay,” Galvez said.

[Translation: With the constrictions of the global market, especially with what's happening now in India where we're getting 30 million of our procured vaccine doses, there's really a possibility of delay.]

According to Galvez, India's COVID-19 crisis is seen to slow the arrival in the country of the 30 million Covovax doses developed by US drugmaker Novavax and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

READ: PH lists vaccine priority areas as India crisis seen to delay delivery of doses

Last week, the vaccine czar expressed hope that the nationwide herd immunity goal by year-end will still be doable with the arrival of bigger vaccine shipments starting June. Two months after the launch of the national immunization program, Galvez said nearly 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to date.