Philippines inks indemnity deal for Pfizer, AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shots

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2021 02:45 PM

Health workers demonstrate the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to colleagues at the Vaccination Hub inside the Lakeshore complex in Taguig City during a dry run on Jan. 27, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News 

MANILA — The Philippines has signed an indemnity deal required to get COVID-19 vaccines from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and United Kingdom's AstraZeneca, an official leading the inoculation effort said on Wednesday. 

Authorities submitted the agreement to the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that seeks to ensure equitable access to the vaccines, said Carlito Galvez Jr, chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19 in a public briefing.

Under the indemnity deal, the national government will be responsible and shoulder the cost for adverse effects on those inoculated, NTF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said.

"Nakapagpirma na po at naisumite na po natin ang mga requirements. Kasama na po dito ang indemnification agreements para sa Pfizer at AstraZeneca. Napirmahan na po namin iyon," he said in a public briefing. 

(We have signed and submitted the requirements. These include the indemnification agreements for Pfizer and AstraZeneca. We have signed that.)

"Binibigyan po natin sila ng tinatawag na guarantee na iyong gagawin po natin na immunization ay prepared na prepared po ang Pilipinas, kaya po nating i-handle pati iyong tinatawag nating mga adverse effect," he added. 

(We are giving them a guarantee that we are very prepared for the immunization we will launch in the Philippines, that we can handle even the adverse effects.)

The processing of some documents earlier snagged the arrival of an initial batch of 117,000 Pfizer doses from the COVAX Facility this month, Dizon earlier said. He did not say if the documents include the indemnity agreement.

Such a deal is standard requirement for vaccine manufacturers, Dizon said.

"Ito po kasing mga bakunang ito ay hindi pa natatapos ang proseso ng product registration sa buong mundo," said Dizon.

(These vaccines have not yet completed product registration around the world.)

Most vaccines are on the third stage of clinical trials and will be used on emergency basis, he said. 

Vaccine makers want "reassurance" after French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi was sued in the Philippines over its dengue vaccine, which allegedly caused severe symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease in some recipients, said Galvez.

Controversy over the vaccine was seen as the cause of vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos, even for vaccines that have long-been administered. 

The government is waiting for COVAX's feedback on the indemnity agreement, he said. 

The Philippines has lagged behind some of its regional neighbors in securing COVID-19 shots, with which it aims to vaccinate 70 million people or two-thirds of the population this year, starting in February.

Aside from Pfizer's initial batch, the Philippines expects to receive its first 600,000 doses of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine this month.

Video courtesy of PTV