President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he sees more deaths from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) because of the global vaccine shortage.
“There is no sufficient supply to inoculate the world, matagal pa ‘to (this will be long),” the President said in his public address.
“Sabihin ko sa iyo marami pang mamamatay dito. Hindi ko lang maturo kung sino (I tell you; more people will die here. I just cannot say who),” he said.
Duterte said he does not know when the country can acquire enough vaccines.
As of April 13, the country has administered 1,255,716 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to medical frontliners, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.
The Philippines has received 3,025,600 doses of vaccines from Sinovac and AstraZeneca.
Despite the dearth of vaccines, Duterte assured the public the government was doing its best to secure more doses.
In his speech, Duterte fired a broadside at the people who he said wanted him dead, saying they should pray harder and pray for the transmission of Covid-19.
“For those people who want me dead, magdasal kayo ng husto… Covid raised to the 10th power ang ipagdasal ninyo (For the people who want me dead, pray harder… You should pray for Covid raised to the 10th power),” he said.
Duterte also slammed those who disagree with the use of vaccines, saying they can go ahead and die.
“We are facing a turmoil not only in the Philippines but in the entire world… May mga iba diyan na ayaw talaga magbakuna, eh ‘di okay na lang ‘yan sa akin. Ang problema kung makahawa ka (Some do not want to get vaccinated. That’s fine with me. The problem is they might infect others),” he said.
A recent Pulse Asia survey showed that 6 in 10 Filipinos do not want to be inoculated with any Covid-19 vaccine.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo earlier urged Duterte to be among the first to get vaccinated to instill public confidence.
Earlier this week, Duterte said he would “waive” his slot in the vaccination drive while Covid-19 shots are scarce.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate 70 million people this year.
A total of 1,093,651 people have received the first jab while 162,065 have received their second shot.
The President also floated the possibility of ordering authorities to take over hotels and pharmaceutical firms to fill the shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients.
“I can always order the military and the police to go there and confiscate the operation of the hotels. And even the medicines, I can go to wherever warehouse there and then,” he said.
“But that is not really what you would call a remedy desired in a democratic state,” he said.
Covid cases dipped
During a Cabinet meeting last Monday, Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said about 2,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds were needed for severe and critical cases in Metro Manila.
On Friday, the Department of Health (DoH) reported a dip in Covid cases.
The single-day figure was 10,726, pushing the total caseload to 914,971.
The positivity rate continued to be 19.7 percent, or 8,255 cases returning positive out of 41,905 tests conducted.
There were 145 deaths reported, raising the total to 15,738 deaths.
The DoH said 650 persons recovered from the virus, bringing the total to 705,757.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the NCR Plus bubble — National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal — gave the government time to strengthen its response in testing, tracing, isolation and the enforcement of minimum public health standards.
This comes as the reproduction number in the region continued to drop to 1.16 from April 9 to 15, despite continuing to log in 5,085 new cases per day during the reporting week, according to OCTA Research.
OCTA Senior Fellow Guido David said for NCR Plus to get out of the average 5,000 cases per day average, the reproduction number needs to fall below 1.0.
“While the trend has slowed in the NCR, the region will continue to have a high number of new Covid-19 cases for the next few weeks, which means demand for hospital care in the NCR will not ease very soon,” OCTA said.
Hospital utilization in Metro Manila continues to be high, with 65 percent of hospital beds and 85 percent of ICU beds occupied.
Outside NCR Plus, the one-week growth rate of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region and Bulacan was at 14 percent.
In Cagayan Valley, it slid to -14 percent. Western Visayas experienced a spike in its one-week growth rate to 97 percent.
‘Reformulated response strategy’
Duque said the government was able to reformulate its action points during the two-week ECQ.
“We owe so much to our experts, who have given much of their time, talent, and knowledge to guide policymakers and implementers alike in the course of our response,” Duque said in a video message.
Among the changes in the response strategy is the integration of a unified digital contact tracing system that will be integrated in the DoH Covid-19 Document Repository System, and the pilot testing of the integration of Short Messaging System into contact tracing.
The DoH will also start the implementation of rapid antigen testing in high-risk communities.
It has also strengthened the One Hospital Command Center into a “One Covid Referral Center” with more telephone lines and integration with the triage system of local government units.
More hospital beds will also be freed up in the coming weeks, with the National Center for Mental Health opening three of its pavilions that will have at least 900 beds, and modular hospitals and temporary treatment and monitoring facilities being built by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said modular tents were also built in the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Tondo Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Las Pinas General Hospital, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center and Lung Center of the Philippines.
She said 3,436 beds have been added in NCR Plus.
WITH RED MENDOZA