Philippines finalizing talks for 25 million Sinovac doses vs COVID-19

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2020 02:33 PM | Updated as of Dec 14 2020 03:07 PM

Philippines finalizing talks for 25 million Sinovac doses vs COVID-19 1
A man works in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a government-organized media tour in Beijing, China, Sept. 24, 2020. Thomas Peter, Reuters/File

MANILA — The Philippines is eyeing the completion of negotiations for the COVID-19 vaccine supply of Chinese drug maker Sinovac Biotech this week, the head of the inoculation drive said on Monday. 

In a "very substantial meeting" last Friday with Sinovac representatives, Philippine officials relayed that the country needs 25 million doses of the firm's vaccine for next year, said National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. 

"We want to finalize this week, our final negotiations, so that we can firm up the head of terms and also we are looking at the exact time of the distribution," he said in an online press briefing.

While Sinovac is "very confident that they have the resources in April", the Philippines is negotiating to get its vaccine supply by March, he said.

Video courtesy of PTV

The Philippines needs to finalize its vaccine deal with China because "we're not the only priority country," said Ambassador Chito Sta. Romana. 

China has priority countries from Southeast Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, he said in the same briefing. 

China launched an emergency use program for COVID-19 vaccine in July aimed at essential workers and others at high risk of infection. It has vaccinated about one million people as of mid-November using at least 3 shots - 2 developed by the state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and one by Sinovac Biotech.

Sinovac said on Nov. 18 that mid-stage trial results showed its CoronaVac shot triggered a quick immune response and interim data from its late stage trial could come this year.

China's vaccines, which have progressed through development very rapidly, are largely based on traditional vaccine manufacturing techniques such as inactivating the virus.

These methods provide some benefits to the vaccines over others. For example, some of the Chinese-developed vaccines can be stored in regular fridges, making distribution much easier. This is in contrast to Pfizer’s vaccines, which must be kept at around -70 degrees Celsius.

- With reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse 

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