Low vaccination rate puts PH at risk of new surge
Due to its relatively low vaccination rate compared to most of its neighbors, the Philippines faces a possible outbreak if COVID-19’s Omicron strain spreads in the country early next year and consequently a return to painful lockdowns, London-based think tank Capital Economics said.
“The outlook for the next quarter and beyond is clouded by the uncertainty caused by Omicron. The new strain has already scuppered the planned Dec. 1 reopening to tourists. The ban on foreign tourists entering the country has been extended indefinitely,” Capital Economics said in a Dec. 22 report.
“Relatively low vaccine coverage means restrictions may need to be tightened again if cases rise,” Capital Economics warned.
The latest World Bank data showed that while 51 percent of the Philippine population already received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, only 34 percent had been fully vaccinated.
World Bank data showed that across Association of Southeast Asian Nations, most vaccination rates were higher than the Philippines: Cambodia had 80 percent; Indonesia, 37 percent; Laos, 43 percent; Malaysia, 78 percent; Thailand, 61 percent; and Vietnam, 55 percent. Myanmar was the laggard in the region, with only 22 percent of its population fully vaccinated.
Nevertheless, with daily new COVID-19 cases currently on a sharp decline, Capital Economics said “the economy is set for another strong quarter in the fourth quarter” following the surprise 7.1-percent year-on-year growth during the third quarter.
“Restrictions are being eased further and our mobility tracker shows that the movement of people has risen to its highest since before the pandemic,” Capital Economics noted.
Capital Economics had projected the Philippines’ gross domestic product to grow by 5.2 percent this year, within the government’s 5-5.5 percent target.
—Ben O. de Vera
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