Govt experts increase herd immunity estimate to 90%

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — With the threat of highly transmissible coronavirus variants, the Department of Health said the threshold for achieving herd immunity must be higher than the initial 70%.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said experts have raised the government's herd immunity target to "up to 90%" because of the emergence of new variants, which have lowered the efficacy of the available COVID-19 vaccines.

"With these mutations of the virus, nagkaroon na po ng epekto itong mga variants of concern (VOC) sa ating mga bakuna kung saan napababa na po nito iyong mga efficacy against symptomatic infections," she said during a virtual briefing.

[Translation: With these mutations of the virus, these variants of concerns have already an effect on our vaccines where they have already reduced the efficacy against symptomatic infections.]

Vergeire, however, stressed that the vaccines currently available are still effective in preventing severe, critical, and fatal cases.

The Philippines has detected thousands of cases of all four VOCs: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and the feared Delta - now the most dominant variant in the country.

Over 33 million coronavirus shots have been administered to Filipinos, with almost 14 million now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Government officials are targeting to expand the vaccination drive to include children and the general public by the last quarter of the year.

The government hopes to receive 25 million vaccine doses this month. By the end of the year, the Philippines' total vaccine supply will reach 137 million doses.