2 US firms ready to supply PH up to 25-M doses of coronavirus vaccines: envoy

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 18 2020 07:59 AM | Updated as of Dec 18 2020 08:25 PM

2 US firms ready to supply PH up to 25-M doses of coronavirus vaccines: envoy 1
Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo in this illustration taken Oct. 31, 2020. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/File

MANILA (UPDATE) - Two US biotechnology firms are ready to supply the Philippines up to 25 million doses of their candidate vaccines against COVID-19, a Philippine envoy said early Friday.

Moderna and Arcturus are willing to provide the country 4 to 25 million doses of the vaccine by the third quarter of 2021 should the government find their proposals acceptable, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez said.

"We are hoping our government will consider the promising candidates of Moderna and Arcturus for inclusion in our country's pool of anti-COVID vaccines," he said in a statement posted on the official Twitter page of the Philippine Embassy in the USA.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine appeared set to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) after the US Food and Drug Administration staff endorsed it as safe and effective.

Moderna's vaccine could become the second to be considered by the US FDA. Last week, the agency authorized Pfizer Inc and BioNTech's vaccine.

The experimental vaccine of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks, and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines. Pfizer's vaccine also uses mRNA technology.

Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc., a California-based company, also employs the same technology in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Philippines is eyeing to use 4 vaccine candidates from Russia and China, Malacañang had said.

They are Russia's Gamaleya Institute and China's Sinovac, Sinopharm and CanSino, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Thursday.

By the second quarter, the country expects to get its vaccine supply from British drug maker AstraZeneca, of which 2.6 million doses were secured by the private sector.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Covax, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna are set to arrive in the Philippines during the third quarter.

In early December, the Philippine government has allowed emergency use of vaccines and drugs against COVID-19, 8 months into the crisis that has upended lives and disrupted economic activities.

The novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness, has infected over 454,000 people in the Philippines, of which 8,850 fatalities were linked to the virus.

The nationwide tally includes more than 419,000 people who have recovered from COVID-19 while over 25,000 patients are still sick with the virus.

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- With a report from Reuters