It makes sense to make Metro Manila and other COVID-19 hotspots a priority in the vaccination drive. Urban and industrial centers are the most efficient breeding ground of the virus because of the dense population in these areas. Immunizing a greater part of these populated areas will greatly diminish the virus spread.
The National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. early this week offered the option to make the vaccination of COVID-19 hotspots a priority, especially the National Capital Region which accounts for the bulk of the country’s gross domestic product.
Metro Manila hosts thousands of restaurants and fast-food and retail outlets that employ several millions. They contribute 42.6 percent of the services sector’s total output nationwide, while the industrial sector in the capital region accounts for 20.8 percent.
Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan clearly contribute to the majority of the country’s economic production. Inoculating the majority of the population in these areas will also facilitate the government’s goal of achieving herd immunity, or inoculating 70 percent of the country’s total population.
The early vaccination of Metro Manila and other urban and industrial centers in the Philippines will hopefully lead to laxer quarantine rules and the further reopening of the economy. Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua has stressed that prolonging the modified enhanced community quarantine status of Metro Manila and the nearby four provinces will only constrict economic activities.
Achieving herd immunity, however, will depend on the availability of vaccine supply. The rich nations have so far cornered the global supply, with poorer nations like the Philippines receiving the vaccine doses in trickles.
In the meantime, local government units, especially the barangays, should start doing their job in implementing the prevent, detect, isolate, treat and recover strategy to lower COVID-19 rates in the Philippines. Pending the arrival of more vaccines, reducing the infection rate is the only way to reopen the economy.