Countries must vaccinate 85% of population ‘or beyond’ amid virus variants — WHO exec

By: Christia Marie Ramos – Reporter / @CMRamosINQ

The World Health Organization (WHO) sees the need for countries to vaccinate 85 percent of their population against COVID-19 in order to protect citizens amid the emergence of virus variants, the body’s representative to the Philippines said Tuesday.

“There were estimates that if you can vaccinate 70 percent of the population, the transmission of virus will die out and the remainder will be protected,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.

“Now with the emergence of the more transmissible Alpha and Delta variants, the proportion that needs to be vaccinated has been estimated to be significantly higher. We are now looking at approximately 85 percent percent or beyond,” he added.

With this new target, the WHO, according to Abeyasinghe, has come up with a position that countries should vaccinate 10 percent of its population by September this year and 40 percent by the end of 2021.

“Hopefully 70 percent of all the countries’ population will be vaccinated by June next year. We believe that if we can achieve that globally, that could help to end the acute phase of this pandemic,” he said.

“We are not differentiating based on economic status or access to health care. [For] any country, these are the numbers that need to be protected by vaccines,” he added.

Abeyasinghe expressed confidence that the Philippines will be able to cover the vaccination of 40 percent of its population “before the end of the year.”

“For the Philippines, you have more ambitious goals. I think you now are now at more than 10 percent of your population already vaccinated with first dose, about four to five percent already fully-vaccinated and we are looking at significantly large quantities of vaccines arriving over the next few weeks and months,” he said.

“So we believe that you will exceed the 10 percent before September and certainly you may exceed the 40-percent threshold before the end of the year because…COVAX itself will provide vaccines to protect 20 percent of your population,” he explained.

So far, the Philippine government has administered over 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

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