Two more years.

Filipinos may have to wait until 2023 before their lives return to pre-pandemic conditions, President Rodrigo Duterte has said.

“In about maybe early 2023, not in 2022 [babalik sa normal]. Ito ngayon hanggang katapusan ng buwan, paspasan tayo,” Duterte said in a press conference as the Philippines received the 600,000 Sinovac vaccines from China.

The country could achieve herd immunity in 2022, he said.

In January, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said 161 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were expected to arrive this year.

Only 5.1 million doses were expected to arrive in the first quarter however, he said.

The Philippine government has P73.2 billion allocated for vaccine procurement in its 2021 national budget.

Duterte called on Filipinos to participate in the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program, saying the vaccines were “backed by science.”

“To my fellow Filipinos: Please set your fears aside. These vaccines are backed by science and deliberated on by our Filipino experts,” he said.

“I encourage you to get vaccinated at the soonest possible time and be our partner in preventing the further spread of this disease,” he added.

The president also called on the vaccinated public to continue practicing health protocols.

“Remember to wear masks, wash hands and observe social distancing. Your cooperation here is key and will undoubtedly save numerous lives along the way,” he said.

The Philippines officially rolled out its vaccination drive on Monday, with Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, director of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, receiving the first dose.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Food and Drug Administration chief Eric Domingo and testing czar Vince Dizon were also inoculated. John Ezekiel J. Hirro