More firms want to join AstraZeneca supply deal: gov't adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2020 08:23 AM | Updated as of Nov 30 2020 11:22 AM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - More firms want to join the agreement between the Philippine government and private sector in securing a supply of British drug group AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine, one of the country's presidential advisers said Monday.

Half of the 3.6 million doses set to arrive in the Philippines in May or June 2021 will go to government healthworkers while the other half will go to frontliners of the private firms, said Joey Concepcion, founder of Go Negosyo and presidential adviser on entrepreneurship.

"Marami pang gustong sumama sa program pero may cutoff ng Nov. 30. Baka magkaroon ng part 2. Maraming Filipino companies willing to join this fight," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(More companies want to join the program but there's a cutoff on Nov. 30. There might be a part 2 since many Filipino companies are willing to join this fight.)

AstraZeneca's vaccine contender costs $5 and does not need to be stored at extremely low temperature unlike Pfizer's, Concepcion said. 

"Kung makikita mo lahat ng ang oorder dito sa AstraZeneca ay countries na di tulad ng America na mayaman. Tumutulong sila sa mahihirap na countries kaya mababa ang cost ng vaccine," he said.

(If you can see, all nations that will order from AstraZeneca are unlike the US that is rich. The firm helps poor countries so the vaccine cost is cheap.)

The Philippines is looking into building a portfolio of potential vaccines against the coronavirus, inoculation czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said. 

Galvez had said AstraZeneca’s vaccine would still undergo stringent clinical trial in the country as questions on its efficacy were raised.

Safety is more important than efficacy and getting into multiple vaccine deals is a "wise move," said Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser of the government's pandemic task force.

"I think once the kinks on the safety issues and dosing schedules are resolved, I think that would be a nice move," he told ANC's Headstart.

"But you need to also understand that you need to get also from Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson and other companies, because of global competition they may not be able to supply bigger volumes of vaccine."

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