Vergeire: Herd immunity still not possible because of vaccine shortage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — The current lack of vaccines is making it difficult for the country to achieve herd immunity.

"For now I can honestly say it is still not possible based on the supplies," said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in an interview with CNN Philippines' News Night on Monday.

Vergeire said the global vaccine supply shortage contributed to the issue, but that the country could still ramp up local vaccination efforts because of the scheduled arrival of doses in the coming months.

"If we say that we can speed up and scale up in the next coming months, yes. I can say that because there would be vaccines that are coming in these coming months although it is not going to be sufficient for us to say that we'll reach herd immunity in two or three months. But we can already cover the classification of priorities of government like A4 and A5," she added.

Epidemiologist Dr. John Wong, who is part of the national COVID-19 task force's subgroup on data analytics, said in a Palace briefing on Monday that 350,000 people should be inoculated daily for the country to reach its target.

"The basis for the 350,000 is if we started (the vaccine rollout) March 1, and we hope to achieve 70% vaccination of the population after a year, let's say February 28, 2022, that's the rate that we should be doing it," Wong said at a Palace briefing.

The government earlier eyed up to 1 million vaccine recipients weekly by April, but it hit a snag when the vaccine supply dwindled.

Around 4 million additional doses from different brands are expected to arrive next month, while some 7 to 8 million are seen to arrive in June. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. previously said they hope to ramp up weekly vaccination capacity to 3 to 5 million in June and July to keep up with the year-end goal.