MANILA - The Philippines is in talks with China and Taiwan for the possible supply of COVID-19 vaccine once available, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
"Nakikipag-usap ang DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) from the manufacturers. May 2 tayo ngayon na tinitingnan. Kausap na rin natin sila. We're just waiting for further documents. Dalawa ito. Galing sa China, isa galing sa Taiwan," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.
(The DFA is in talks with the manufacturers. We are looking at 2 now, and we are also talking to them... These are two - one is from China, another one is from Taiwan.)
"Actually, marami na talagang nag-aalok dito sa ating bansa ng mga bakuna na nasa certain levels of clinical trials," she added.
(Actually, many are already offering us with vaccines that are already at certain levels of clinical trials.)
Experts around the world are working at breakneck speed to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, which has infected nearly 15 million people and claimed more than 616,000 lives. Clinical trials of several coronavirus vaccines have yet to show efficacy and safety.
"In the coming days or weeks, we will be able to give you a complete information once all of these have been finalized already," Vergeire said about the vaccine deals.
"But definitely, nakapasok na 'yung Pilipinas doon sa field na puwede tayong maka-position at maka-access man lang dito sa bakuna," she added.
(But definitely, the Philippines is already in the field where we could position to access the vaccine.)
Vergeire issued the remarks in response to a question if the Philippines had expressed interest to purchase vaccines being developed by drugmakers from the United States.
The Philippines is also part of the World Health Organization’s clinical trials for possible COVID-19 treatments, she reiterated.
As of early this month, 576 patients in the country were participating in the trial’s 4 tracks. Receiving local standard care are 212 patients, 213 are taking the antiviral medication remdesivir, 66 are taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and 85 are taking the HIV medication lopinavir and ritonavir.
But the last two tracks have already stopped enrollment - hydroxychloroquine, in June, and then, lopinavir and ritonavir after, as both were deemed ineffective.
To date, the country has recorded 70,764 coronavirus cases, of whom 1,837 have died while 23,281 have recovered.
The Philippines first COVID-19 case was recorded on Jan. 30 from a Chinese woman who arrived from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the novel coronavirus first emerged.