Philippine Red Cross in talks with Pfizer, AstraZeneca to procure COVID-19 vaccines

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2021 02:36 PM | Updated as of Jan 05 2021 09:44 PM

A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken Oct. 30, 2020. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/File

MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Tuesday said it is in talks with pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca to procure COVID-19 vaccines that would be sold to Filipinos on a "buy 1, donate 1" scheme.

The Philippine Red Cross has written a letter to the 2 pharmaceutical giants to procure some 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, PRC chair Sen. Richard Gordon told reporters in an online press conference.

"The first plan of the Red Cross is to vaccinate... Ang labanan dito distribution [na] mabilis (This is a matter of the quick distribution of vaccines)," he said.

The PRC is set to meet with Pfizer representatives after the press conference, he said.

"It's [in the] early days. Magdasal tayo na makuha natin (Let's pray that we get it)," he said.

While the PRC has yet to finalize the procurement deal, the non-profit organization has already earmarked some $20 million (P961 million) for the program, he said.

Should the deal push through, PRC frontliners will be among priority recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines, while the rest will be sold to Filipinos who are willing to buy another dose that will be donated to the less fortunate, Gordon said.

The price depends on which vaccine will be procured, he said.

"I'm sure many Filipinos would like to do it... We should share our good fortune," he said.

While the PRC is still waiting to get its own COVID-19 vaccines, the agency is willing to help the government in its inoculation program, Gordon said.

Last year, Health officials said the Philippines is planning to buy 2 million COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, but the national government has yet to explain to the public its full plan for the procurement, distribution and storage of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to endorse the use and sale of any COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

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