Leachon: With current PH vaccination rate, 1.5M daily target still a stretch

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — The government's new target of up to 1.5 million daily vaccinations is a "stretch" considering the country's current average inoculation rate, a health reform advocate said Friday.

Former pandemic response task force adviser Dr. Tony Leachon told CNN Philippines' The Source that it would not be possible to achieve this new target for the rest of the year, especially when the government could not even administer a million doses daily.

"It would be a stretch considering na hindi tayo nag-aaverage ng more than a million. Hirap na nga sa 500,000 (daily inoculation) at nagdi-dwindle pa yan," he said.

[Translation: It would be a stretch considering that we could not even reach an average of more than a million. We are even having a hard time reaching 500,000 daily inoculations and it dwindles.]

Leachon said the upcoming holidays might even slow down the government's inoculation pace further.

"December is almost a 'half-month.' If you remember, pag December celebratory na ang mga tao (by December, people are already in a celebratory mood). I don't think it will be accomplished yung 1.5 million a day," he said.

On Tuesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. bared the government's new target "in order to achieve a happy Christmas this year."

But recent data from the Health department shows that an average of 423,157 daily doses were administered in the last seven days as of Oct. 21, not even half of the government's new inoculation target.

Leachon also cited the lack of cold-chain facilities and the slow distribution of vaccines in the provinces. He said that such issues were already raised a few months back in some congressional hearings, but the problem seems to be coming from the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, which seems to be causing "bottlenecks" in delivery.

"The problem, as articulated, there was a bottleneck, even up to now in the NTF, because the NTF is regulating the vaccines that will be released to LGUs and private sector," he said.

"You have to drop the multiparty agreement kasi nagkakaroon ng bureaucratic red tape doon sa area na yun (because there is bureaucratic red tape in that area)," said Leachon, noting that the rollout would have been faster if the private sector and localities can directly purchase from vaccine manufacturers.

So far, more than 54 million doses have been administered since the vaccination drive started in March. Over 25 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, still far from the government's goal of inoculating 77 million Filipinos before the year ends.