Screen grab from the Facts First podcast.

Prioritizing vaccines for the “National Capital Region (NCR) Plus Eight” group will be more effective than “shotgun” vaccination in fighting Covid-19 given a shortage of jabs, a government adviser said.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. of the Octa research group said building a “Covid-proof wall” around NCR plus Eight would prevent future virus case surges.

The NCR Plus Eight areas include Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

“The idea here is if we inoculate and vaccinate the NCR [Plus Eight], we build a “wall” around NCR [Plus Eight], the variants cannot enter the Philippines because they enter through the doorway of NCR [Plus Eight],” Austriaco said in the Facts First podcast on July 16 (Friday).


Austriaco also said protecting the NCR Plus Eight would indirectly protect rural areas.

He said the Philippines should focus on vaccine allocation to achieve “herd immunity” especially amid vaccine shortage.

Political pressure drives “shotgun” vaccination

With the upcoming elections, the national government was pressured to do “shotgun” vaccination, or the sending of vaccines outside the priority areas focusing on senior citizens, frontliners and vulnerable adults.

“The danger now is the reallocation of the shotgun approach would undermine the NCR Plus Eight because what will happen is that there would be not enough vaccines to build the wall,” Austriaco said.

He said prioritizing the NCR Plus Eight might seem unfair as the NCR was a “low-risk” area, but it would be beneficial in the long term.

“If we do the shotgun approach, we will be vulnerable to surges and attacks for another two years. But if we do the approach of NCR Plus Eight, the country doesn’t have to worry about surges and lockdowns anymore,” Austriaco said. Hazel N. Camba