Supply, regulatory issues affect COVID-19 vaccine tripartite deals: Galvez

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2021 04:48 PM

Caloocan City residents booked online receive their dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
Caloocan City residents booked online receive their dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Notre Dame of Greater Manila vaccination site on August 16, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The unsteady COVID-19 vaccine supply and regulatory issues are hounding the tripartite procurement deals involving local governments, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said Wednesday. 

In a statement, Galvez said the government intends to honor the agreements and commitments under the multi-party agreements (MPA) "which have already been signed" with localities.

Some purchases were put on hold, he said, due to supply issues, among other things. 

For one, Moderna and AstraZeneca suspended vaccine orders through the MPAs "for the time being", the statement said.

Sinovac, Pfizer, and Gamaleya, meanwhile, intend to prioritize the orders of the national government, it added.

Some vaccine orders are also facing regulatory issues, according to the official. 

The country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to grant Novavax an emergency use authorization, while Bharat Biotech's Covaxin has also yet to receive regulatory approval from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC). 

Authorities, Galvez said, are also concerned about Covaxin's "potential overpricing issues."

On Aug. 9, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said his agency is still waiting for Novavax to submit several more documents for its EUA application. 

Johnson & Johnson's Janssen is also "not open for MPAs" at present under Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program of 2021, Galvez said.

"As we have explained in the past, our nation’s vaccine procurement efforts largely depend on the availability of supply which up to this day remains limited," the official explained. 

"This is why the [National Task Force Against COVID-19] continues to actively engage various vaccine manufacturers, he added.

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His statement came a day after Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said "almost all" of tripartite deals have yet to be signed, delaying the vaccine purchase of provinces. 

"It’s coming in trickles. But we have the fund to purchase these vaccines, to push this vaccine program to make it 500,000 a day if they release these tripartite agreements," according to Zubiri. 

Galvez has yet to respond to queries as to how many COVID-19 vaccine doses are affected by the pending tripartite deals. 

NTF TO LGUS: ALLOCATE MONEY TO ISOLATION, TREATMENT OF PATIENTS 

With the developments, the vaccine czar urged local government units to allocate their vaccine budget to their COVID-19 isolation, treatment, and prevention strategy. 

"This, along with COVID-19 vaccines, remain the best ways to contain and mitigate the impact of COVID-19," he said. 

He also appealed to localities to be "patient" since the NTF is giving all their "best" on the matter. 

"We have to face the reality that vaccine makers are still not able to produce at a level that would meet the requirements of all nations. The issue is not just about having the resources to procure the vaccines but its limited supply in the world market."

The Philippines is facing another surge in COVID-19 infections, straining the country's limited health care system. 

Experts said the new wave of infections is driven by the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant. 

As of Monday, the government was already able to administer 28,308,493 virus jabs, of which over 15.5 million are first doses. 

A total of 12.7 million Filipinos, meanwhile, are fully vaccinated against the disease. 

The country aims to vaccinate some 58 million in Metro Manila and 8 other urban areas by yearend to achieve population protection and revive the economy.