AstraZeneca closed for COVID-19 vaccine orders; gov't helps firms get Novavax jabs

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2021 01:24 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2021 11:38 PM

AstraZeneca closed for COVID-19 vaccine orders; gov't helps firms get Novavax jabs 1
A health official draws a dose of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka Jan. 29, 2021. Dinuka Liyanawatte, Reuters/File

MANILA — AstraZeneca is no longer accepting COVID-19 vaccine orders from the Philippines and government is now helping local firms secure jabs from US-based pharmaceutical group Novovax, an adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday.

The Philippines has secured 17 million doses of the vaccine from UK's AstraZeneca, with the help of private firms and local governments. 

“Iyong 17 million, iyon ang huling order. Kinausap ko sila, sa batch 3, ayaw na nila kasi talagang kulang na kulang ang supply nila sa Europe,” said Go Negosyo founder and presidential adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. 

(The available supply is Novavax. AstraZeneca has no more supply. The 17 million doses will be our last order. I talked to them for a third batch of orders, but they no longer want it because their supply in Europe is short.)

“So dito na lang sa Novavax, isang magaling na vaccine ang puwede nilang— habang maaga pa, mag-order na sila,” he said in a public briefing. 

(So they should just order from Novavax, a good vaccine maker, while it is still early.)

Some 800 firms attended a recent briefing of Novavax on a possible tripartite supply deal with the government. Local pharmaceutical group Unilab is collating possible orders, he said. 

“Dapat lahat ito libre sa mga empleyado, hindi puwedeng ibenta ang mga vaccine sa mga empleyado,” said Concepcion. 

(This should be free for employees, this cannot be sold to them. )

“Marami ang interesado at ngayon, pumapasok ang mga letters of intent, maraming gustong kumuha ng Novavax vaccine,” he added. 

(Many are interested and letters of intent are coming in, many want to order the Novavax vaccine.)

Firms can order as few as 200 Novavax doses, said the official. 

“Pero iyong MSMEs, sa 200, malaki pa rin ‘yan. May mga talagang maliit. Tutulong kami sa mas maliit sa 200 doses,” said Concepcion. 

(But for micro, small and medium enterprises, an order for 200 doses is still big. There are small companies, and we will help smaller firms get 200 doses.)

Meanwhile, billionaire Enrique Razon Jr.'s International Container Terminal Services Inc is leading efforts for firms to secure COVID-19 shots from Moderna, another US-based vaccine maker, Concepcion said. 

“Sarado na yata, at I think they’ve already committed their full allocation, not anymore taking orders for this. Dapat sana mas maaga ang na-order nila,” he said. 

(It seems to be close already, and I think committed their full allocation, not anymore taking orders for this. The order should have been placed earlier.)

Video courtesy of PTV