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Vaccinate all 12-m “vulnerables” nationwide now

04:00 AM July 06, 2021

Our people should learn by now that the best exemplary strategy against this pandemic is the Metro Manila vaccination experience. Active cases  sunk from a high weekly moving average 4,285 on March 31 to the recently reported 540  as of end of June.  NCR fatalities  also decreased from a high 61 deaths on April 31, to only 7 deaths on June 28 and continues to go down. The reproduction number for Metro Manila are now sub-1 levels, from 0.60 to 0.80 while the ADAR (attack rate per 100,000 population) is now down to 4.97 percent from a high of 10 percent. This continues despite government’s  loosening of some restrictions for business and society here in NCR even as the Delta variant threatens.

These downward indicators happened because early vaccination concentrated on vulnerables (senior citizens-A2  and those with medical conditions-A3) among the total 4M people inoculated here in NCR .  They are known virus spreaders and most likely to contract severe COVID -19 and die from it.  After vaccination,  the people around them were also protected.

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We are now seeing these fast decline in reproduction numbers, new cases and mortality. If total vulnerables in the country are vaccinated, the Metro Manila experience will be repeated and nationwide numbers will soon drop.

We are fortunate to have a country with lower median age and obesity levels. Demographics indicate 5 percent (senior citizen 65+ population)  or nearly 5.7M  while those obese or with medical conditions are just  6 percent  or 6.8M. This adds to a total of only 12.2M vulnerables out of our total 114M population. Most of them are still unvaccinated, particularly in our top 20 cities with rising COVID-19 cases.

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Now that all 1.669M medical frontliners are 100 percent vaccinated, nationwide priority should now shift to vulnerables (A2,A3)  in the 20 cities  outside NCR where new COVID cases are rising.

These are Davao city, Iloilo city, Bacolod city, Gensan, Butuan city, Cebu city, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio city, Calamba-San Pablo-Santa Rosa cities in Laguna , Tagum city, Tacloban city,  San Fernando city-La Union, Bacoor-Cavite, Zamboanga city, Antipolo city, Angeles city, and Batangas city

If all elderly and those with medical conditions in these areas are fully vaccinated, they become “protected population  together with their families,  against the pandemic and its variants.   And following the experience of Metro Manila, new cases and deaths  in those 20 cities  will eventually decline and may  cause the pandemic to die out.

In today’s global shortage, this “Vaccinating the Vulnerables” strategy  is not only timely  and more efficient, but also answers the desperate pleas of the elderly and sickly who need immediate protection . This strategy succeeded not only here in Metro Manila but also in Hungary where daily deaths/million of 3,113 are now dropping to only 3 a day. Yesterday,  Thailand said they will now speed up vaccinating their elderly (0.7 percent) and medically vulnerable citizens (3.1 percent)  with a combined population of 17M beginning this week.  A decision which they say would give them greater protection from the highly infectious Delta variant.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr and Task force deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon both announced the arrival this month of  Sinovac (5.5M) COVAX (4M), Astrazeneca (1.17M) ,J and J  (1M) Japan donation (1.1M)  Pfizer (500k) and Moderna (250,800) for a total of  13,320,800 doses.

As I said,  these vaccines should be administered  ,first and foremost, to all elderly people A1 and people with medical conditions A2 in the cities outside NCR . This group  should be  over and above the economic frontliners and other  priority classifications.

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