President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said Sunday he may lift the quarantine restrictions once the government acquires around 20 to 40 million coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses and achieves consistency in its vaccine rollout.
Inoculating a substantial portion of the country’s population will decrease chances of human-to-human infections, which would help the country reach herd immunity faster, President Duterte said in a press conference at Villamor Air Base following the arrival of 600,000 CoronaVac doses donated by the Chinese government.
President Duterte hopes for a successful vaccine rollout, noting he intends to lift the current restrictions in the entire country once the population is safe from contracting the virus.
“People have to eat, people have to work, people have to pay for their upkeep. And the only way to do it is to open the economy and for businesses to regrow,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, kung makita ko na marami ng vaccine, open ko na lahat, wala na. Tanggalin ko na ‘yan. Buksan ko na dahil sa economy.”
If the government’s mass immunization program is successful, Philippines will likely have herd immunity by early next year, the President said, pointing out that public cooperation is key in achieving such immunity.
He, however, said the government can’t force unwilling individuals to take the jab.
“Kung ayaw niya, that makes it doubly hard for us. But that is also one which we have to take into account in dealing with the problem of COVID-19,” he said.
He appealed to the people to participate in the government’s mass inoculation program.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) said Philippines expects to receive over 500,000 vaccine doses from British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca by next week.
The vaccine will come from World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility, a global alliance that helps poor countries vaccinate their population against the deadly coronavirus disease.
The DOH has recorded 2,921 new COVID-19 cases on February 27, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 574,247 with 524,865 recoveries and 12,289 deaths. PND