An April 2 social media post of the Presidential Communications Operations Office that the Philippines ranks third in Southeast Asia in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout as of late March only shows part of the full picture.
The PCOO omitted data that show the country faring badly in the number of Filipinos that have been fully vaccinated and, more important, the share of population that has been inoculated.
The post by the PCOO on its Facebook page, as well as on the PCOO Global Media Affairs' Facebook and Twitter accounts, reads:
TINGNAN: Ang Pilipinas ay nasa ika-3 puwesto sa ASEAN pagdating sa vaccination rollout, dahil umabot na sa 738,913 doses ang naipamahagi nito mula March 1 hanggang March 30, 2021. Sa ngayon, ang AstraZeneca at Sinovac vaccines ang ginagamit sa pagbabakuna dito sa bansa. #RESBAKUNA #COVID19PH #workingPCOO #WeRiseAsOne
LOOK: The Philippines ranks 3rd in ASEAN in the vaccination rollout with 738,913 doses administered from March 1 until March 30, 2021. Currently, the country is administering Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines. #RESBAKUNA #COVID19PH #workingPCOO #WeRiseAsOne
The post was accompanied by an infographic listing vaccine doses administered in Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia in the order of their rankings as of end-March. It drew the figures for the Philippines from the Department of Health and those for other countries from Bloomberg and other foreign service posts.
The Philippines indeed ranks third in the region in terms of not only doses administered but also the number of people who have received one dose by the close of March, according to Our World in Data (OWID), which aggregates data from government and other sources. OWID is maintained by the Oxford Martin School and University of Oxford and referenced by authorities, researchers and journalists.
What the PCOO Global Media Affairs omitted to mention was that the country ranks fifth in the number of people who have been fully vaccinated. As of March 30, only 1,344 Filipinos have received two doses of Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccines.
When calculated by the proportion of population that has been inoculated, the Philippines fares even worse. It ranks fifth in the region with less than one dose—0.67—administered per 100 Filipinos and sixth for full vaccinations per 100 people, which is zero.
The government kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on March 1, a day after it received China's donation of 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses. A total of 480,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the country on March 4 via the COVAX facility. China shipped its second shipment of donated Sinovac vaccines, totaling 400,000 doses, on March 24. On March 29, the Philippines received the first batch of Sinovac vaccines it bought from China: a million doses.
Thailand rolled out the vaccines only a day ahead of the Philippines, but 29,064 Thais have been fully vaccinated compared with 1,344 Filipinos as of late March, according to data.
PCOO's Facebook post has generated more than 15,000 interactions. It has been shared by other government agencies such as the Philippine National Police Special Action Force unit and Quezon City Police District; news organizations such as Panay News, Mindanao Daily Mirror and Love Radio Butuan; and pro-Duterte individuals and groups, according to the social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle. Its page has more than 2.5 million followers.
The government placed Metro Manila and four provinces under enhanced community quarantine starting March 29 after COVID-19 surged to record highs. As of April 2, when the PCOO published the post, the total number of infections had risen to 771,497 with an unprecedented 15,298 new cases that day.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations. (n.d.). Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations
Presidential Communications Operations Office. (2021, April 2). TINGNAN: Ang Pilipinas ay nasa ika-3 puwesto sa ASEAN pagdating sa vaccination rollout, dahil umabot na sa 738,913 doses ang naipamahagi nito mula March 1 hanggang March 30, 2021 (Status update). Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pcoogov/posts/4483728128323480
PCOO Global Media Affairs. (2021, April 2). LOOK: The Philippines ranks 3rd in ASEAN in the vaccination rollout with 738,913 doses administered from March 1 until March 30, 2021. [Status update]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pcooglobalmedia/posts/794364501186526
PCOO Global Media Affairs [@pcooglobalmedia]. (2021, April 2). LOOK: The Philippines ranks 3rd in ASEAN in the vaccination rollout with 738,913 doses administered from March 1 until March 30, 2021. [Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/pcooglobalmedia/status/1377810924443029505