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Powering Vaccinations with Tech to Spur Philippine Economy

According to new data released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the University of Oxford, COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a long-term and profound impact on socioeconomic recovery in low- and lower-middle-income countries unless urgent action is taken to increase supply and ensure equitable access for all countries, including through dose sharing.

Despite lower growth projections for the next two years, Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) economists in the Philippines said what is important is that the government has increased its vaccination programme against Covid-19. Whereas the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) stated that an increase in the number of people vaccinated against coronavirus will address the country’s pandemic-related unemployment.

Increased vaccination drive would help the country gradually win the war vs. the unseen enemy, which is Covid-19. Full vaccination sharply reduces the risk of Covid-19 infections, severe cases or hospitalisation, and deaths, thereby reducing the burden on the health care system and correspondingly reduces the risk of lockdowns, going forward.

– Commercial Banking Corporation 

“I think it’s very important but to me, the key here really is our vaccine turnout and we have been doing very well now,” he said during a virtual event. The country’s unemployment rate rose to 8.1% in August, up from 6.9% in July. Economic managers predicted the increase due to the implementation of stricter quarantine restrictions following the increase in Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. However, they reported that labour force participation increased to 63.6% in August from 59.8% the previous month as more people rejoined the labour force.

The chief economist of Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) noted that the continued vaccination drive and reopening of the economy bode well for the country’s economic recovery prospects in the coming quarters or even years, albeit gradually, given the need to reduce new COVID-19 cases amid risks associated with the unvaccinated.

“The country’s economy could return to pre-COVID levels as early as the latter part of 2022 or by 2023, but the recovery of other businesses/industries, especially those hard-hit by the pandemic last year, would take much longer,” he added.

In addition, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) recently launched the National Digital Vaccine Certificate to unify all LGU-issued vaccination cards across the country (VaxCertPH). VaxCertPH is a component of the DICT’s Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS), and its ultimate goal is to enable the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Centre to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

The system is claimed to be reliant on data given by the LGUs to the central VIMS data warehousing for the purposes of generating a digital certificate. All data is safeguarded by the relevant encryptions and can be validated by authorised agencies, groups or countries cryptographically.

OpenGov Asia reported in an article stating that the government is also intensifying the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Recover (PDITR) strategy during the lockdown periods to facilitate the reopening of the economy. To strengthen the ‘detect’ and ‘isolate’ pillars, NEDA, the Department of Health (DOH), and other local government units (LGUs), with the help of data scientists from the Asian Institute of Management, are working on a solution to automatically determine likely close contacts of COVID-19 positive cases and immediately notify these people via text message.

Speaking at the recent Philippine OpenGov Leadership Forum, Denis F. Villorente, Undersecretary for the National Information & Communications Technology Assets Index, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), spoke about the potential of a robust national ID system that could facilitate multiple types of transactions necessary for digital ecosystems and societies, saving people, government and businesses time and money and unlock new drivers of economic value and growth.

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