Philippines to ink deal for 20 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine this week

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2021 01:47 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2021 11:59 PM

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the Pentland Medical Practice, in Currie, Scotland, Britain Jan. 7, 2021. Russell Cheyne, Pool/Reuters 

MANILA (UPDATED) — The Philippines this week will sign a supply deal for 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from British drug group AstraZeneca, an official leading the immunization effort against the disease said on Wednesday.

"Bukas nga po ay aming pipirmahan, lalagdaan po namin ang tripartite agreement na more or less 20 million doses para sa AstraZeneca," said Carlito Galvez Jr, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force COVID-19. 

"Hindi po tayo nahuhuli," he said in a public briefing. 

(Tomorrow, Thursday, we will sign a tripartite agreement for more or less 20 million doses for the AstraZeneca vaccine. We are not lagging behind.)

A tripartite deal with the national government and a vaccine maker allows a private firm or a local government to secure supplies of COVID-19 vaccine. 

In November, around 30 local firms signed an agreement for 2.6 million AstraZeneca vaccine jabs. Half of these will be donated to the government, and the rest will go to the companies' workers. 

A second order was placed for an additional 3.7 to 3.8 million doses, said presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.

AstraZeneca had said that its COVID-19 vaccine could be around 90% effective, giving the world another weapon to fight the global pandemic and potentially cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.

Around 13 million Filipinos will be vaccinated through efforts led by the private sector and local governments, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday. 

Aside from AstraZeneca, the government has secured 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, and 25 million jabs from China's Sinovac Biotech. 

In a televised briefing Wednesday night, Galvez said the Serum Institute of India has also allocated another 10 million doses for the Philippines, in case some private companies and local government units want to avail of their vaccine.

"Sa Serum Institute of India, 'yung Novavax, mayroon po tayo, napirmahan na po, 30 million doses, so secured na po 'yun. Puwede pa po 'yung madagdagan pa ng 10 million doses para sa mga LGU at private sector. So nag-open po siya ng space na 10 million para po kung gusto ng mga LGU at business sector na bumili ng Novavax ay puwede pong bumili," he said.

(We have already signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses of Novavax. We have already secured that. They also allotted 10 million doses in case local government units and the private sector want to avail of the vaccine.)

Galvez also said he has coordinated with the country's ambassador in India to facilitate the delivery of the Novavax vaccine.

The Philippines will also get 30 million doses from COVAX Facility, a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to the vaccines for poor nations, said Galvez. 

The first batch of vaccines from COVAX Facility may be delivered to the country by February, Galvez added.

"Nakausap namin kahapon ang COVAX Facility, may possibility po na February po magdala po ang COVAX dito, WHO at saka Unicef, ng Pfizer," Galvez said.

(We have talked to the COVAX Facility yesterday and there is a possibility that COVAX, the WHO and Unicef will bring Pfizer vaccines to the country by February.)

Authorities are also negotiating for vaccine deals with drug groups Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, he said. 

The government aims to secure 148 million vaccine doses this January. 

The Philippines has recorded 491,258 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Tuesday, including 23,532 active cases, 9,554 deaths, and 458,172 recoveries. - with reports from Reuters

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- with reports from Reuters