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In two separate interviews last Tuesday with Pia Hontiveros and Cito Beltran, I gladly announced that the private sector and the national government will finally welcome the first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines that the business sector procured last year as part of the country’s multi-sectoral strategy to quell the current pandemic we are facing. The initial delivery, which is 1.17 million for this July and succeeding months, forms part of the private sector’s procurement of AstraZeneca vaccines.
Further, I told Pia and Cito that the vaccines are part and parcel of various initiatives from the private sector, starting from providing accessible and affordable COVID-19 testing kits to ‘A Dose of Hope’ program so we can extend assistance to the government in vaccinating the entire population. Without the government allowing us to partake in AstraZeneca’s no-profit program, where vaccines just cost around $5.00 per dose or roughly P250.00, this particular initiative of the private sector would not be possible. In return, the private sector has promised to donate to the national government a portion of the forthcoming vaccines.
I also emphasized that this is where the private sector’s efforts will finally come to fruition: the country’s vaccination rates are expected to increase given the combined effort of the private sector and the national government. This actually proves that we are united in this battle we are facing. It is actually good to hear that last week’s total number of vaccine doses administered in the country already reached the 13 million mark. I also shared that our team, through Go Negosyo, has already secured over 80 locations in the country that will serve as vaccination sites to complement the government’s inoculation drive.
The AstraZeneca vaccines that are expected to arrive will be allocated to our employees, even if 10 to 20 percent of them are already inoculated with vaccines coming from the government. On that note, the extra vaccines will not go to waste even if one of the brands we procured only has a shelf life of four months. I shared in my interviews that this is because we have already planned to rechannel the vaccines to LGUs that will need additional vaccine supplies to extend to dependents of our employees who have yet to receive their COVID-19 jabs or to use as ‘booster shots’ once the expected inoculation with third vaccine dose, is approved for implementation by the IATF-EID.
With this recent development on the part of the private sector, I shared that the faster pace of vaccination across the country is crystal-clear. Since the private sector has full control over the said procured vaccines, we can then target buildings, factories, and other establishments to focus on employees’ vaccination so we can finally achieve ‘micro-herd immunity’ in this setting. In essence, once majority of individuals in a particular building are already fully-vaccinated, it can then propel our economy to recover if people are given increased mobility.
Likewise, I told them how glad I am to hear IATF-EID chairperson and DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III welcoming my proposals and affirming the national government’s support to the private sector for a safe, steady reopening of our economy through ‘safe spaces,’ since these are closed areas subject to specific oversight of private owners.
I further stressed that by implementing faster vaccination rollouts, it may be unnecessary for us to wait for NCR to fully reach herd immunity since ‘micro-herd immunity’ is slowly being attained by several establishments anyway. If we have fully inoculated those in the buildings, that is already considered ‘micro-herd immunity’ in action. As Father Nic said, we actually need to focus our vaccination efforts on a micro-level, such as barangays and establishments, so we can easily transition to full herd immunity once inoculation efforts are already completed.
Targeting herd immunity in smaller, controlled environments such as offices, factories, households, and communities is actually possible because those groups have already found ways to create their own safe spaces. For instance, white-collar environments, such as offices, are more inclined to adopt that idea because those are closed systems and vaccine acceptance is relatively high. Meanwhile, those in blue-collar environments are also expressing their openness to getting inoculated, given the increase of vaccination rates in white-collar environments, and also due to fear of contracting the highly-dreaded Delta variant of COVID-19 virus.
Once again, I reiterated the most important linchpin of my proposal – the key to open the economy is just simply vaccination, that is the bottomline. With the contribution of the private sector in ramping up the country’s vaccination efforts, more people will finally obtain their long-awaited maskless freedom in a snap. These efforts are then expected to create a ripple effect because if people have more mobility, a higher propensity for the economy to fully open and recovery will definitely follow. Further, there will be a spike in economic activity since people are going out and consumption will increase to its full potential.
To cap it off, I reminded everyone that during these trying times, we have to continue giving hope to everyone, because it is in my firm belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, that light can only be seen if we find a way out of it. All of us are just fighting the same enemy, and that is COVID-19, not our fellow Filipinos and definitely not the government. This is why I am affirming that the private sector is passionately exerting its efforts in the pursuit of bringing more vaccines to the country at any cost. We are at a crossroads; recovery is impossible if we will not do anything substantial and people just simply stay in the comfort of their homes. Hence, even if we’re just initially eyeing the concept of ‘micro-herd immunity’ for fully-vaccinated ones, the private sector is very much willing to take that chance, and that is actually at arm’s reach if everyone, especially the private sector, is one with the entire nation in fully defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.