MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Philippines on Thursday signed a second purchase purchase agreement that raised to 17 million the COVID-19 vaccine doses it will get from British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, which the government plans to distribute in remote communities.
More than 300 companies and 39 local governments units (LGUs) across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao joined the endeavor.
"AstraZeneca maintains our sure commitment to give access with no profit," said Lotis Ramin, country president of AstraZeneca. "Today, we are delighted to conclude 17 million doses which can reach millions of people."
The Philippines' vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. thanked AstraZeneca for "this partnership [that] will help us to save more than 8 million lives."
Last November, the government and around 30 private firms signed a deal for 2.6 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses.
The new 17 million doses from the British-Swedish drugmaker are expected to be delivered mid-2021.
The 300 firms include the food, tourism, industrial, retail, and BPO sectors. Fifty percent of the procured vaccines will be donated to the government and 50 percent will be given to prioritized employees who serve as frontliners in their industries.
Some of the LGUs that took part of the signing were the cities of Makati, Caloocan, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Valenzuela and Las Piñas for Metro Manila. For Luzon, the provinces and areas of Ilocos; Isabela; Nueva Ecija; Quirino; Baguio; Dagupan; San Nicolas, Pangasinan; Puerto Princesa City; Pulilan, Bulacan; Sta. Rosa, Laguna; Taal, Batangas; Vigan, Iloilo; Negros Occidental; Ormoc City and Palompon, Leyte; Bacolod City; Davao; Oroguieta; and Zamboanga City.
With nearly 495,000 coronavirus infections, the Philippines has the second highest caseload in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year.
The Philippines has secured 30 million COVID-19 doses from the Serum Institute of India, and 25 million jabs from China's Sinovac Biotech.
On Wednesday, the Philippine embassy in Washington announced that the country is also in the final stages of negotiations for the procurement of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines,
According to Manila's envoy to the United States, Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez, the Philippines would be able to secure a "minimum" of 10 million vaccine doses from the firm, to be delivered by the middle of this year.
The deal supposedly provides for an "option to purchase an additional 10 million doses."
Galvez, also the chief implementer of the National Task Force COVID-19, said last Monday that the Philippines is about to clinch around 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by next week, with one manufacturer delivering by February.
COVID-19 vaccines that do not require ultra-cold storage include those from Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Novavax, said Galvez.
"Ito po ang puwede nating i-deploy sa far-flung areas dahil hindi po ito nangangailangan ng minus [zero] cold chain," Galvez said in a public briefing on Tuesday.
(This is what we can deploy to far-flung areas because it does not need negative cold chain.)
--With a report from Isay Reyes, ABS-CBN News