Philippines inks deal to secure 30M doses of Covovax vaccine
A man receives a dose of the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at South Bronx Educational Campus, in the Bronx New York on January 10, 2021.
AFP/Kena Betancur

Philippines inks deal to secure 30M doses of Covovax vaccine

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 11, 2021 - 9:15am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government signed an agreement to secure the supply of 30 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Serum Institute of India, which are expected to be available in the latter part of the year.

The term sheet to secure Covovax shots was signed by vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., SII and its local partner Faberco Life Sciences, Inc. on Saturday.

The cost of the vaccine has not been finalized but the doses will be available starting the third quarter of 2021, according to a statement distributed by the Department of Health late Sunday.

The Covovax vaccine will be used to inoculate “15 million vulnerable and poor Filipinos,” Dr. Luningning Villa, Faberco Life Sciences medical director, said.

“The vaccine is stable at 2°C to 8°C, the standard temperature that is within the existing cold chain system in the Philippines, thus allowing its distribution to the remotest barangays,” Villa said.

This is the second vaccine supply agreement signed by the national government.

SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, partnered with US drug developer Novavax for the development and commercialization of Covovax, which is currently in third-stage trials.

Covovax has the “recombinant coronavirus spike protein nanoparticle and a Novavax-patented Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.”

Galvez — a former armed forces chief and concurrently presidential adviser on the peace process — said the government wants to inoculate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos in 2021 alone as it hopes to close negotiations for 148 million doses with drugmakers this month.

This target, however, depends on the global supply where 80% had already been procured by other nations.

The country's Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any vaccine for emergency use, which is required before it can be rolled out for mass vaccination. American firm Pfizer, British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca and Russia's Gamaleya have applied for emergency use authorization. 

As the national closes agreements with various vaccine makers, several local government units are also inking deals with developers to vaccinate their constituents. The national government set aside P73.2 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

With over 487,000 COVID-19 infections, the Philippines has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia following Indonesia.

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