PEOPLE waited for their turn to be inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at SM Megamall at the start of the government’s three-day vaccination drive on Nov. 29. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

The Philippines has given out more than 100 million vaccine doses against the coronavirus, having fully vaccinated 43 million Filipinos or 56% of the government’s target, according to the presidential palace. 

About 60 million were first doses, while at least a million were booster shots, the Department of Health’s (DoH) vaccination dashboard showed. The government seeks to fully inoculate 54 million people by the end of the year. 

“This, however, must not lull us into complacency,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said in a statement on Friday. “We will continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts and call on those unvaccinated to get their jabs as soon as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community.” 

Businesses should comply with the 50% capacity limit for indoor activities and 70% limit for outdoor operations, he said. People should observe health protocols. 

“The coronavirus is still around with the looming threat of the Omicron variant,” Mr. Nograles said, adding that people should continue to wear face masks, keep distance, avoid large crowds and use hand sanitizers. 

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the seventh close contact of the Nigerian who tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant in the Philippines was negative of COVID-19, just like the others. 

DoH reported 582 coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to 2.84 million. 

The death toll hit 50,570 after 74 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 494 to 2.78 million, it said in a bulletin. 

There were 10,167 active cases, 539 of which did not show symptoms, 4,015 were mild, 3,415 were moderate, 1,815 were severe and 383 were critical. 

The agency said 54% of the reported cases occurred from Dec. 4 to 17. The top regions with cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila with 75, Calabarzon with 47 and Western Visayas with 29. 

It added that 12% of the reported deaths occurred in December, 15% in November, 31% in October, and 24% in September. 

DoH said eight duplicates had been removed from the tally, eight of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 59 recoveries were relisted as deaths.  

Four laboratories did not operate on Dec. 15, while one failed to submit data.  

The agency said 22% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate for Metro Manila was 24%. 

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the Philippines had been formally included its so-called Solidarity Trial Vaccines, as two candidate vaccines were being tested on volunteers to hasten development and roll-out. 

“This announcement today is a milestone,” WHO Representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe told an online news briefing. 

“It is our responsibility to be a part of the solution to this unprecedented global crisis,” President Rodrigo R. Duterte said in a recorded video. “Let us push for the success of this vaccine trial and work together for the protection of the people’s health and well-being.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan