MANILA— The Philippines is in the process of talking with vaccine distributors and overseas manufacturers to kickstart fill-and-finish vaccine operations in the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Saturday.
A "fill and finish approach" is the importation of vaccine materials from the vaccine developer and filling vials for distribution locally, as the country has no capacity yet to develop and manufacture its own vaccines.
Under this approach, an agreement will be made between the Filipino company involved and the said vaccine manufacturer, which will also prepare the facilities.
In a public briefing, Science Undersecretary Rowena Guevarra said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is helping them with the discussions, and so far they are finalizing the local pharmaceutical company that would produce the vaccines.
A vaccine originator, or the country's foreign partner for the supply of bulk antigen and other supplies, is also still being screened.
"Dalawa 'yung kausap natin, 'yung local pharmaceutical company na siyang magpro-produce nitong vaccines, nakausap na natin 'yan, mayroong 7 na naghihintay ng final word diyan, 'yung kabila naman vaccine originator," Guevarra explained.
(We are talking with a local pharmaceutical company that would produce these vaccines, while 7 are still waiting for the final word. There is also a vaccine originator.)
"Sa tinataya po ng mga usapang nakikita ko between DTI and itong mga company, lumalawig na po ang usapan nila at lumilinaw na kung sino po sa ating mga vaccine originators ang willing magdala dito noong bulk antigen na ipa-partner natin sa local manufacturer na magfi-fill and finish muna," she added.
(Based on the discussions between DTI and this company, their discussions are expanding and getting clearer who our vaccine originator would be, who could provide the bulk antigen that would partner with the local manufacturer that could do fill-and-finish)
The official did not specify the companies who are interested with the project.
Video from PTV
Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña in April said tests will also be subjected to the quality and standard protocols by the Food and Drug Administration.
The government aimed to start the local manufacturing of jabs by next year, making it self-reliant, Dela Peña had said.
The agency had said such fill-and-finish plants are also quicker to assemble and operate as the antigen will be delivered to the country and assembled as injectibles.
These facilities can also manufacture some 40 million jabs annually.
Officials have yet to release information on the kinds of vaccine that could potentially be made in the country's fill-and-finish facility.