MANILA - Some of the Philippines’ biggest companies have committed to donating 1.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the second quarter of 2021 to help the government’s immunization drive, a presidential adviser said on Tuesday.
Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, who is also the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship, said he is working on a deal for the private sector to help the government acquire COVID-19 vaccines next year.
"We have close to 20 to 25 companies, large companies, that are supporting the vaccine program together with this pharmaceutical company who is offering it zero profit to the government,” Concepcion said.
The vaccine supplier is AstraZeneca.
“We want the Filipinos to start feeling that vaccines are arriving in the second quarter of 2021. We don’t want the Philippines to be left behind,” he added.
Concepcion however said that he would ask that half of the 1.5 million doses, or 750 thousand, be channeled back to the donor companies, to be directed to their frontliners and poorest colleagues.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said that he wanted the police, military as well as the poorest Filipinos prioritized for vaccination.
The government estimated that it will need P73.2 billion to immunize at least 60 million Filipinos against the novel coronavirus, and achieve herd immunity.
Concepcion meanwhile said the private sector hopes that besides ending the outbreak, mass vaccination will also help solve the economic problems created by COVID-19.
"Ultimately it is the vaccine that will solve this problem.”
Three large pharmaceutical companies have now reported significant progress in their COVID-19 vaccine production, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca.
Both Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines are about 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. Both vaccines however need to be refrigerated.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine was either 62 percent or 90 percent effective, depending on the manner in which the doses were given, but its offering can be quickly produced in vast quantities, will cost only a few dollars per dose, and is easier to store for long periods.
These companies are also working out distribution deals with governments around the world, with the United States among the most active in the market.
News of progress on the COVID vaccine front has lifted capital markets around the world, including the Philippine Stock Exchange, which nearly broke back above 7,200 for the first time since February in Tuesday trade.