5 firms eye COVID-19 vaccine factories in PH: DOST

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2021 02:35 PM

5 firms eye COVID-19 vaccine factories in PH: DOST 1
Health workers administer COVID-19 vaccines to senior citizens during an inoculation program at the San Juan Arena on March 30, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - At least 5 companies are planning to build COVID-19 vaccine facilities in the Philippines while 3 others want to locate in the country to produce other jabs, an official from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Tuesday.

The companies may either assemble the vaccines or produce them from scratch here, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said in an online press conference.

"One [firm] is targeting to start a fill and finish facility by the end of the year," she said, without disclosing the name of the company.

At least 2 companies - one partnered with a Chinese firm, and another with a German pharmaceutical - are already in talks with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), she said.

Other firms are still in the process of finalizing a partnership with foreign pharmaceutical giants from the United States, South Korea and Taiwan, she said.

Companies that will manufacture vaccines in the Philippines may be given "5 or 6 years of income tax holiday" and preferential treatment in public procurements, thanks to several laws mandating the government to prioritize local firms in biddings, Guevara said in an earlier interview. 

"We are going to pursue vaccine manufacturing as an industry," the official said.

"We need to provide the policy environment that will be favorable," she said.

A Pandemic Procurement Bill has been filed in Congress, and once passed, it would allow the government to buy pandemic-related products from local companies even if it is priced 20 percent higher than foreign-made options, she said.

The Philippine government stopped producing vaccines in 2015 over lack of funding.

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