Phlilippines eyes Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine
In a statement, Faberco Life Sciences Inc., the partner of Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd. (SII) in the Philippines, said it is prepared to facilitate an immediate communication line between SII and the government for COVID-19 vaccine of Novavax.
AFP/Nicolas Asfouri

Phlilippines eyes Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The entry of an India-made vaccine against COVID-19 in the country looms as the local partner of the drug’s manufacturer is now facilitating a partnership with the Philippine government.

In a statement, Faberco Life Sciences Inc., the partner of Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd. (SII) in the Philippines, said it is prepared to facilitate an immediate communication line between SII and the government for COVID-19 vaccine of Novavax.

SII has a license agreement with Novavax Inc. for the manufacture and commercialization of NVX-CoV2373 in low- and middle-income countries and India.

NVX-CoV2373 is a COVID-19 vaccine engineered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and created using Novavax’s patented technology.

According to Luningning Villa, medical director of Faberco Life Sciences, Inc., the storage requirement of Novavax for tropical countries like the Philippines “doesn’t require extreme cold (which) is an edge.”

“Even after the vaccine has been administered to the population, the facility that we might create will still have a purpose,”  she noted.

The statement showed that the vaccine has a “favorable product profile that will allow handling in an unfrozen, liquid formulation that can be stored at 2°C to 8°C allowing for distribution using the standard cold chain system for vaccines in the Philippines.”

Villa underscored that SII is planning to manufacture over one billion doses of Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373.

She added the firm is capable of increasing production and assures supplies “wherever commitments are crystalized.”

Currently, the candidate vaccine is being thoroughly evaluated in different geographies, various age groups, including the elderly and other groups most affected by COVID-19, people living with HIV and racial and ethnic minorities.

The clinical trials involve a sizeable population of around 50,000 subjects to ensure extremely robust clinical data prior to approval by relevant regulatory bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO).

The statement showed the vaccine already underwent the initial phases of clinical trials in Australia, South Africa and India.

Phase 3 trial is currently done in the UK with 15,000 subjects and also ongoing in the United States and Mexico with 30,000 subjects.

UK vaccine

A visiting minister from United Kingdom has cited positive discussions between Philippine government officials and British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, which has applied to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines for its coronavirus disease vaccine.

Nigel Adams, Minister for Asia of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, facilitated a meeting between top government officials and AstraZeneca Philippines president Lotis Ramin last Friday.

It was hosted by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and was attended by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, who is also the chief implementor of the national policy against COVID-19.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, there was an informative exchange on the country’s response to the current pandemic and on the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University during the meeting.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Friday night, Adams said he was very encouraged with the positive discussions between the Philippine government officials and the pharmaceutical firm.

“It’s important that all countries have a broad range of vaccines to choose from,” he said.

“We’re very hopeful that we’re going to get that particular vaccine by the end of the year. Of course, all the tests, the field trials have to be completed to ensure the efficacy… and the safety of the vaccine,” he added.

The meeting happened just as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that AstraZeneca applied to conduct clinical trials in the country, the fifth after Sinovac and Clover of China, Sputnik V of Gamaleya National Research Institute of Russia and Janssen of Johnson & Johnson of the United States.

FDA director general Eric Domingo said they are currently reviewing the application of AstraZeneca, which is now in the country’s pipeline for potential COVID vaccines.

Officials did not disclose specific details of the discussions.

In a separate statement, Adams said he was pleased to facilitate discussions “on access to affordable vaccines” between the Philippines and the UK.– Janvic Mateo

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