Philippines eyes getting some of Canada's excess COVID-19 vaccines: envoy

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2021 05:10 PM

Philippines eyes getting some of Canada's excess COVID-19 vaccines: envoy 1
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being extracted while he visits a vaccination clinic at the Palais des Congres, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 15, 2021. Andrej Ivanov, Reuters/File

MANILA — The Philippines has expressed its intent to get some of Canada's COVID-19 vaccines, the country's envoy there said on Monday, as Filipino authorities sought to boost the inoculation drive. 

Canada has secured 180 million COVID-19 shots for its around 40 million people. This means that it could have some 100 million excess jabs of 2-shot vaccines, said Philippine Ambassador Rodolfo Robles. 

"I had the Philippines listed among those who are interested to get the excess [vaccines] of Canada," he said in a Malacañang press briefing. 

Canada expects to finish its vaccination drive by the middle of the fourth quarter this year, Robles said. 

"Before the end of the year, we will know already how many excess Canada will have... I am really watching with an eagle eye on the prospect of getting some excess from Canada," he said. 

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The ambassador said he also reached out to Canadian biotechnology company Medicago about the possibility of manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines, where it would have tax and importation perks. 

Medicago requires a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for the negotiations. The document is "still in the hands" of the Department of Science and Technology, Robles said. 

"With that, we can start negotiating more formally, after getting that NDA approved by the Filipino government... I expect that to be proceeding faster as soon as I get the confirmation," he said. 

The Philippines has taken delivery of some 17.4 million COVID-19 shots, at least 10 million of which have been administered as of June 27. 

Among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia, the Philippines aims to vaccinate at least 58 million of its 110 million population this year to achieve herd immunity.