Red Cross eyes 2.2 million COVID-19 jabs from AstraZeneca, Moderna

Red Cross eyes 2.2 million COVID-19 jabs from AstraZeneca, Moderna
Screen grab shows Sen. Richard Gordon attending a Senate plenary session through video conference on February 1, 2021.
Screen grab / Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross is looking to purchase 2.2 million vaccines from western manufacturers, its chairman said Wednesday.

"I've ordered, if allowed, from big companies such as AstraZeneca two million [doses], Moderna 200,000 [doses]," Sen. Richard Gordon, also PRC chairman, said in Filipino during an interview with ABS-CBN's Teleradyo. He added that the organization would enter talks with other companies as well.

Rules set by the COVID-19 task force require local governments and private entities to enter tripartite deals with the national government and pharmaceutical companies to acquire vaccines.

Gordon early in January said PRC was in talks with Pfizer but noted that negotiations were in the early stages. He also said then that the organization was eyeing a "buy one, donate one" scheme to be implemented in its own vaccination program.

Last month, the senator said PRC would help administer vaccines to around a million Filipinos, noting the organization's experience in administering other jabs, against diseases such as polio and measles, would help the national vaccination program.

To date, only two vaccines have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from local regulators: AstraZeneca and Pfizer. 

In a televised coronavirus task force meeting on Monday evening, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., also vaccine czar, said the government has already signed term sheets with five drugmakers, which will assure the country of up to 108 million vaccine doses.

But term sheets are non-binding agreements, meaning the government has yet to execute definitive supply agreements with pharmaceutical firms it is in talks with. Galvez said he expects to finalize vaccine agreements with pharmaceutical companies by mid-February.

With more than half a million infections and over 10,000 deaths, the Philippines has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia. The country is looking to start its immunization program within the month.

— Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico and The STAR

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