The Philippines may no longer achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 60 to 70 percent of the country’s population of more than 111 million.
OCTA Research Group fellow professor Guido David said the government’s target is no longer applicable with the presence of the more transmissible variants.
New variants from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and South Africa have been discovered since December last year. These have spread in many countries, including the Philippines.
The Philippines is among the hardest hit of the UK and South African variants, which authorities blamed for the new spike in cases that started last month.
The daily count of Covid victims peaked at more than 15,000. Yesterday’s count was 11,378 which was still on the high side.
These variants, health officials said, are more transmissible.
David, however, said the Philippines should set a higher target to be able to achieve a herd immunity.
“Because the new variant is more transmissible, (the target) should be 75 percent. NCR should be prioritized,” David said.
David, however, projected Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal (NCR+) to ease by next week.
“We are expecting cases will continue to decrease. Hopefully, by next week, we are in a downward trend” David said. “The average cases per day is 10,000, it could go as low as 7,000 cases.”
The independent research firm said that the number of infections in Pasay and Marikina has been steadily decreasing, while bigger cities like Manila and Quezon City have also shown negative growth rates in the past week.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday has placed the NCR+, Santiago City in Quirino and Abra under the less restrictive MECQ from 12 April to 30 April.
The Health Professionals Alliance Against Covid-19 expressed dissatisfaction over what they called “short-term intervention” and reiterated the necessary changes to systems and processes have not been implemented.
Meanwhile, economist-lawmaker Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo on Monday called on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to implement a “surgical attack” instead of a “shotgun approach” in addressing the pandemic.
“The virus is, unfortunately, moving faster than policy. I have some apprehensions on the effectiveness of an MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) in controlling the further spread of Covid-19 while jump-starting the economy.
“As we were seeing spikes of over 6,000 cases a day back in August 2020, the IATF implemented an MECQ from 4 to 18 August,” Quimbo pointed out.
She also raised concern on the lifting of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) when the number of Covid-19-related deaths is at a peak with 401 deaths last 9 April 2021.
The IATF, she urged, must expedite the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination program and a more targeted approach of household lockdowns.
“We need to ensure that the vaccine supplies are forthcoming as planned, without any delay and that these are swiftly and safely distributed to the public,” she said.
For Quimbo, instead of imposing ECQ and MECQ to select places, which she described as “simply too broad in implementation,” she proposed that only Covid-19-inflicted households must be placed to a “strict stay-at-home policy.”
“I propose that instead of a widespread community quarantine, that the IATF shifts instead to a more targeted approach of household lockdowns,” she said.
The households which will be placed under lockdown, meanwhile, have to be provided with assistance and healthcare, she added.
Under this proposal, she noted, the national economic growth will not be impeded and will ensure job stability.
with Michelle Guillang
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