Philippines to get 20 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine - Roque

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 12:46 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2021 07:04 PM

Philippines to get 20 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine - Roque 1
A medical worker receives the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at CHU Tivoli hospital in La Louviere, Belgium, Jan. 18, 2021. Yves Herman, Reuters

MANILA (UPDATE2) — Malacañang confirmed on Tuesday that the Philippines will get 20 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, as the country pursues procurement deals with various drug firms.

Authorities have signed a term sheet for the Moderna jabs, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The private sector and local governments will help pay for the shots because Moderna's vaccine is among the "most sought" after and priciest, said Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19. 

"Magbibigay [po ang Moderna] ng ilang vaccine sa May," he told reporters in an online briefing, but did not say how many doses.

(Moderna will send some vaccine doses in May.)

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In a forum organized by the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, Galvez told government officials that a shot of Moderna would cost around $20 to $25.

The Philippine embassy in Washington announced last week that Manila is in the final stages of negotiations for the procurement of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Ambassador Jose Manuel 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 agreement allows the "option to purchase an additional 10 million doses," he said. 

Roque said the Philippines has term sheets as well with 3 other COVID-19 vaccine makers namely, Novavax, AstraZeneca from the UK, and China's Sinovac.

The government aims to begin immunization next month, hoping to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population, this year.

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 shots are authorized for use in Europe and the United States.

According to a Reuters report, the two aren not well-suited to lower-income countries due to expensive storage requirements.

Pfizer’s, which has already secured an EUA from the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration, has to be stored at -70°C, requiring costly equipment and infrastructure, and is expensive at roughly US$20 a dose.

Moderna’s, however, can be kept in a standard refrigerator for up to 30 days, but is even more expensive. The FDA has yet to receive Moderna's application for EUA in the Philippines.

Low- and middle-income countries have consequently struck few direct deals to buy these vaccines.

Currently, the FDA is assessing the EUA applications of AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Institute of Russia, and Sinovac.

- With a report from Reuters and Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News


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