Health expert Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon said Monday the government should prioritize giving COVID-19 vaccine in Philippines’ economic centers.
Leachon said the 70% of the country’s economic centers are found in National Capital Region or Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon.
“They said we can vaccinate in three to five years. I have a different suggestion. The initial volume of vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna should be focused on NCR which has a population of 13 million, Calabarzon and Central Luzon because these areas make up 70% of the economic epicenter of the country,” Leachon said in an ANC interview.
“Once we are okay with the 70% of our economic epicenter, then we should focus on other hotspots [of COVID-19] like Davao and Cebu,” Leachon added.
He said that by doing this, the government could achieve its goal in two years instead of five.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said government plans to give COVID-19 vaccines to 20 up to 30 million Filipinos annually within five years.
Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire did not comment on the government’s timeline since regulators have not approved any COVID-19 vaccines yet.
Leachon: Economic centers should be prioritized in giving COVID-19 vaccines
Vergeire said the Department of Health was able to vaccinate 85% of the 22.9 million children in 1998 but admitted that the agency could not immunize 70% of the Philippine population in a year due to lack of vaccine supply.
But for Leachon, a two-year timeline for COVID-19 vaccination would be effective if those residing in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon would be prioritized.
“If we want to spread the vaccine thinly, surely it will take us three to five years. But if we want to be agile, we can finish in two years if we focus on the economic epicenter first. Economic recovery would need herd immunity, and the vaccination of 70% in these areas will enable them to return to normalcy and cause faster economic recovery,” Leachon said.
The country has recorded 429,864 COVID-19 cases as of November 29. Of this number, 398,624 recovered while 8,373 died.