THE PHILIPPINES will only likely fully vaccinate 65% of its adult population by 2023, as the economy is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the third quarter of 2022, Moody’s Analytics said.

Herd resilience or a situation when 65% of adult population have been vaccinated will only occur in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam by 2023, according to Moody’s Analytics.

“Indonesia and the Philippines have been struggling to allot vaccines either due to access or simply the difficulty in getting the vaccine out through the public health systems across the country,” Moody’s Analytics Chief Asia-Pacific economist Steven Cochrane said in a webinar.

Based on data from the Johns Hopkins University, only 1.12% of the Philippine population have been fully vaccinated since its inoculation drive started in March.

Even as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine supplies are slow to arrive, the government is sticking to its target of vaccinating 50 million adult Filipinos by end-November. By the first quarter of 2022, the government hopes to have 70 million Filipinos vaccinated.

Moody’s Analytics Senior Asia Pacific economist Katrina Ell said the Philippines is expected to grow beyond its fourth quarter 2019 level only by the third quarter of 2022.

This makes the country the region’s laggard given that India and Indonesia, which have also seen relatively high infections, are both expected to surpass their pre-pandemic GDP level by the second quarter this year. Singapore and Japan are expected to exceed pre-pandemic economic growth by the fourth quarter this year.

Some countries in Southeast Asia are expected to take until the second quarter of 2022 to grow their economy beyond their pre-pandemic levels, including Thailand and Malaysia.

“The Philippines is the country that was least able to control COVID [even after] many, many quarantine orders,” Mr. Cochrane said.

“The Philippines also is probably the one country in the Asia-Pacific area that has not benefited from the turnaround in exports. They are not as quite tied to the global supply chain for goods as much as the rest of the region,” he added.

Moody’s Analytics in May said it expects the Philippine economy to grow by 5.3% this year, a less optimistic view than the government’s 6-7% target. The economy slumped by a record 9.6% last year due to the crisis. — L.W.T.Noble