An independent vaccine tracker provided data that showed the full picture of how the Philippines fares in vaccination in Southeast Asia.
The national government had been releasing infographics on social media since last March where they supposedly showed the country ranks high among its neighbors in the region.
However, in a tweet on April 28, the Twitter page called Philippines Vaccine Tracker shared a graph that showed the Philippines actually has a poor vaccine rollout based on the population sizes of each country, citing data from Ou rWorld in Data.
“Totoo bang pangatlo ang Pilipinas sa pinakamaraming nabakunahan sa ASEAN? Sa total number of doses administered, oo. Pero kung pagbabasehan natin ang percentage ng populasyon, tayo ay 3rd from the last sa ASEAN,” the tweet read.
Totoo bang pangatlo ang Pilipinas sa pinakamaraming nabakunahan sa ASEAN?
Sa total number of doses administered, oo. Pero kung pagbabasehan natin ang percentage ng populasyon, tayo ay 3rd from the last sa ASEAN.
— Philippines Vaccine Tracker (@HerdImmunityPH) April 28, 2021
In the graph, the Philippines ranked third from the last in the list of SEA countries that have administered their vaccines per 100 people.
This is closely followed by Brunei and then Vietnam.
The rest of the rankings are:
In a separate tweet, the online tracker also noted that Brunei and Vietnam have the lowest number of infections in the region.
“Tandaan din na habang ang Brunei at Vietnam ay ang pinakahuli sa vaccine rollout sa ASEAN, sila din naman ang may pinaka mababang bilang ng COVID-19 cases,” read the tweet.
In an earlier tweet, the tracker stated that citing the low vaccination rate, the estimated herd immunity in the country is December 2029, which is 8.6 years from now.
Est. herd immunity date:
Dec 2029 (8.6 years from now)
— Philippines Vaccine Tracker (@HerdImmunityPH) April 27, 2021
The ASEAN Post similarly posted the same data from Our World In Data.
The COVID-19 vaccination race in ASEAN is heating up and is currently dominated by Singapore with a total of 37.84 doses administered per 100 people.
— The ASEAN Post (@theaseanpost) April 28, 2021
Herd immunity happens when a large part of the population of an area is inoculated and protected from a particular disease.
The World Health Organization and other health organizations stated that to achieve herd immunity is the goal to stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19, thus ending the pandemic.
Since early this April, the Department of Health and the Presidential Communications Operations Office had only been presenting partial data to the public in their claims that the Philippines ranked third among its neighbors in terms of the number of doses administered.
In the data released by the the Philippine News Agency on April 22, the country ranked fourth with 1,612,420 doses administered.
In both data presented, the government did not include the country’s population in their computation.
Directive from PCOO
Such updates on global data stemmed from a memo directing the PCOO to show that the Philippines is doing better than other countries.
Virginia Arcilla-Agtay, PCOO News and Information Bureau, confirmed this to reporters after a screenshot of a memo bearing the agency’s name circulated online on Wednesday.
“All government media platforms are hereby directed to carry regular updates about the world data on COVID-19, specifically to convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many other countries addressing the pandemic,” part of the memo read.
Following the criticisms, Agtay defended the agency, saying that there is nothing wrong with “amplifying facts.”
“Well aware of these roles, especially with the COVID-19 situation, the President has given the instruction in order to provide adequate information and convey working policies, particularly those that aim to address the effects of the pandemic in the country. There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a lie, it is simply amplifying facts,” she was quoted as saying.