THE PHILIPPINES on Thursday took delivery of about 1.5 million doses of CoronaVac vaccines from China.
This brings to 18.5 million the total number of CoronaVac shots delivered to the country so far, including a million doses donated by China,” the National Task Force Against COVID-19 tweeted.
The country will receive a million more doses of CoronaVac on Friday, it added.
About 18.7 million vaccines have been given out as of July 28, 11.43 million of which were first doses, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing.
The government gave out a record 659,000 vaccine shots on Tuesday, he said. He added that 534,612 shots were given out on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Mr. Roque said the budget for booster shots would be allotted in the 2022 national budget.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said the government would allot P45 billion for coronavirus vaccines next year.
“The government is one step ahead. We have included in the proposed 2022 budget a provision for a third vaccine dose for all Filipinos,” Mr. Roque said.
A study by Chinese researchers showed that antibodies triggered by CoronaVac decline below a key threshold from about six months after the second dose for most recipients, Reuters reported.
A third shot could reverse the effect, the news wire said, citing the report that studied blood samples from healthy adults aged 18 to 59.
Metro Manila would get two million more vaccines amid a spike in coronavirus infections in the region, Mr. Roque said, citing vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.
Mr. Galvez had said 30% of the capital region’s target adult population had been fully vaccinated.
Mr. Roque also said President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order to bar unvaccinated people from going out would not be enforced immediately.
Mr. Duterte on Wednesday night said Filipinos who refuse to get inoculated against the coronavirus would not be allowed to leave their homes.
The President told a televised Cabinet meeting he would ask police to enforce the policy. “You will be escorted back to your house because you are a walking spreader.”
“I think what the President was thinking was how to keep the economy going if we really need to go on a lockdown,” Mr. Roque said. “In which case, it will not be a complete lockdown. Maybe those vaccinated can be allowed to work.”
The President in June said he would order the arrest of people who refuse to take part in the government’s vaccination program. He said those who don’t want to get vaccinated may leave the country.
At the same meeting, Mr. Duterte said Congress should come up with a law punishing unvaccinated people who loiter.
“We do not have a law, a punitive action that can be taken against the person who does not have the vaccine and go around,” he said.
He said he would take responsibility for any complaints against his order. “There is no law, but the law of necessity is there.”
Mr. Duterte said the slots for people who don’t want to get vaccinated should be given to others.
Critics have said vaccine shortage, not vaccine hesitancy, is the biggest problem in the government’s coronavirus immunization program. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza