MANILA — The Philippine Embassy in the United States touted Tuesday a recent virtual forum between key offices of Manila and Washington that could lead to "exploration" of areas of partnership in vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez has highlighted "the importance of building domestic capacity" for vaccine self-reliance, the embassy said in a statement.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and the limited global supply of vaccines have magnified the importance of building domestic capacity that would ensure some degree of vaccine self-reliance critical to prepare countries to deal with future pandemics," Romualdez said in the virtual forum.
The forum gathered officials of the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), US International Development Finance Corp. (DFC), and Philippine agencies such as Board of Investments (BOI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and representatives from the healthcare and logistics industries.
According to USTDA Regional Director for the Indo-Pacific Verinda Fike, the Philippines has grown to be the agency’s "most active portfolio in Southeast Asia."
"We have so much demand that we are really working closely with the Philippine government currently to set up an office at the US Embassy in Manila, hopefully by the end of this year," Fike said.
DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara meanwhile underscored the Philippines' bid to find suitable investment partners that can work with the country in terms of technology transfer, capacity-building, and financing its vaccine development roadmap.
"We are also establishing the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines through a law," she said.
The virtual forum, co-organized by the Philippine Embassy and US government, also served as a "medium" for pharmaceutical and logistics companies "to get acquainted with the tools and products available through the DFC and USTDA", the embassy said.
Describing the forum as a "first but major step," DFC Director for Indo-Pacific Erin Murphy expressed optimism that "the beginning of the conversation" will result in continued collaboration between the two nations.