Herd immunity road to recovery


    Until the Philippines achieves herd immunity — when 70 million of Filipinos are inoculated with vaccines against the new coronavirus disease 2019 — the economy will not grow as fast as pre-COVID, business leaders said yesterday.

    This developed as Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said also yesterday that by limiting the suspension on non-essential and high-risk activities for the next two weeks, the impact of the new restrictions on the economy should be minimal.

    Lopez in an interview over DZRH admitted the two-week restriction will impact on unemployment due to the limitations in the number of establishments that are allowed to open.

    He, however, said the impact is not as big.

    At the Tapatan sa Aristocrat yesterday Jeffrey Ng, vice president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), said the group was hoping the economy would recover swiftly this year until this new round of restrictions was imposed.

    Ng, however, agrees a positive GDP growth is possible by the second quarter from -15 percent in the same quarter in 2020 due to the severe lockdown last year.

    “The imposition of new restrictions is understandable but this will have a negative impact on the economy.

    MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) will suffer more. Until such time we achieve herd immunity, the economy will not be able to recover and may require more quarantines,” Ng said.

    Ng expressed confidence by end of the year, as the government targets, the country will achieve herd immunity so “we can look forward to a more progressive economy by 2022.”

    At this rate, Ng said the daily vaccination of 400,000 per day “has to be done at the soonest possible time if we are going to recover by the third and fourth quarter.”Business leaders also raised mobility issues that could affect production.

    Cecilio Pedro, FFCCCII vice president, expressed concern the border restrictions would cause undue inconvenience to their workers and thus would cause delay in the production floor.

    Pedro said the sudden implementation of the resolution also did not give companies enough time to work out their workers’ schedules and housing arrangements.

    Tugon Kabuhayan (TK) mean while urged the government to ensure the smooth transportation of perishable food products into Metro Manila and nearby provinces with the implementation of the Resolution No. 104.

    The group said the experience during the early implementation of quarantine rules last year must be avoided at all cost as it resulted into an oversupply of vegetables and produce in several provinces that led to income loss and food wastage.

    “The delays and failures in delivering produce to key population centers like Metro Manila were attributed to the disrupted supply chain caused by stricter quarantine rules. Fish and vegetables were spoiled while live hogs and cattle became emaciated as checkpoints and other quarantine protocols, affected the free flow of goods,” said Asis Perez, TK convenor, in an online briefing yesterday.

    He urged local governments to use fresh vegetables and fish instead of mainly canned goods whenever food supplies are provided in areas under lockdown, citing that price and supply of fisheries are expected to be stable in the coming months. – Irma Isip with Jed Macapagal