"With the absence of vaccines, we already know what we need to do."
The arrival of 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines on Sunday will help the country's vaccination program push through amid the worsening COVID-19 incidence in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, now called the NCR-Plus Ground Zero.
It will benefit more healthcare workers under the priority groups who have not received their first or second vaccine shots, senior citizens and those with comorbidities.
The delivery of CoronaVac vaccines from Beijing’s Sinovac Biotech is better than nothing, as we desperately lag behind our planned national vaccination program.
Malacańang officials said the rich and powerful countries have cornered the vaccine supplies manufactured so far.
Conversely, those rich and powerful countries and their financial institutions are from whom we are borrowing money from to buy the vaccines.
That is why the vaccines needed to stop the continued spread of COVID-19 here have come in trickles.
Russian company Gamaleya Institute committed to sending us at least two (2) million doses of Sputnik V but confirmed it will initially deliver 20,000 doses only within this month.
British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca signified to supply one (1) million doses but has delivered only half of that.
Such delay is starting to cause alarm among Metro Manila residents who get the daily dose of reports on figures on new COVID-19 cases and the death toll that could no longer be played down by Department of Health (DOH) officials.
The grim scenario is exacerbated by the catastrophic projections of the University of the Philippines’ OCTA Research Group that prompted the Inter-Agency Task Force to recommend to the President placing NCR-Plus under ECQ.
DOH officials and hospital operators are complaining that Metro Manila’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed. Health workers have yet to be completely inoculated.
Panic-buying of medical oxygen tanks has been reported due to overcrowding in hospitals.
At the rate we are going, some quarters fear that we will be lucky to vaccinate 70 percent of the population to attain “herd immunity” by 2023.
A total of 923,000 vaccine doses have been reportedly administered as of last weekend, making the Philippines “one of the 50 highest” among 155 countries in vaccination rankings, according to Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez.
Not surprisingly, President Duterte’s detractors have resorted to a blame game on the delayed arrival of vaccines, faulting the government negotiators for ineffective approaches in procuring vaccines abroad.
Political opposition personalities demanded that the government, as well as the local government units (LGUs) do better in administering all the available 2.5 million doses on hand.
Sunday’s arrival of 500,000 doses of CoronaVac will not definitely appease the President’s critics who have accused China of bribing the Duterte leadership amid continued controversy over Chinese presence in the West Philippine Sea.
I understand we’re just over a year away from the May 2022 elections but politicizing the issue of delayed vaccine supplies is the last thing we need during these most difficult times.
With the absence of vaccines, we already know what we need to do and that is to stay healthy and observe health protocols.