Secretary Francisco Duque III (MNS Photo)

MANILA, July 16 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines will likely fall short of its goal of a mask-free Christmas this year due to the scarce supply of COVID-19 vaccines, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday.

Duque said there is a high chance that the COVID-19 inoculation campaign would run until 2022.

He explained that the country would need around 25 million doses each month to achieve population protection in the next 130 to 140 days.

“Mukhang made-delay ‘yun (It looks like that will be delayed),” Duque said, referring to the goal of a mask-free Christmas.

“‘Wag muna nating asahan ‘yan kasi mafu-frustrate lang tayo na umaasa tayo, pinaaasa natin ang taumbayan eh hindi naman natin kontrolado ang supply,” he added.

The Philippines has only received over 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the launch of its vaccination program in March.

Over 10 million people have gotten at least one shot, more than 4.2 million of whom have completed both doses, still far from the government’s target of vaccinating 70 million people to achieve herd immunity.

Last month, Malacañang expressed optimism that Filipinos would enjoy a mask-free Christmas this year based on projections by the OCTA Research group.

“Supply permitting lahat ‘yan, kasi sabihin mo pang gusto mong tapusin ito, kaso ang supply naman ay bungi bungi at kulang kulang,” Duque said. “Kaya kung posible bang umabot ito (vaccination) ng first quarter ng 2022 ay puwedeng–puwede.” (MNS)

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