Moderna, more Sinovac doses arrive

Rudy Santos - The Philippine Star
Moderna, more Sinovac doses arrive
Moderna in PHL: Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. (right), International Container Terminal Services Inc. EVP Christian Razon Gonzalez (2nd from left) and US embassy economic counselor David Gamble Jr. flash the ‘Resbakuna’ sign during the arrival of 249,600 doses of Moderna vaccines at the NAIA-3 on Sunday night. This was the first delivery of the US-made vaccine.
MIAA photo

MANILA, Philippines — The first 249,600 doses of US-made Moderna COVID vaccines have arrived in the country.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. welcomed the Moderna jabs, which arrived on a Singapore Airlines commercial flight from the US via Singapore at the NAIA Terminal 3 at 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Of the initial doses, 150,000 were procured by the Philippine government while 99,600 were purchased by the private sector, led by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).

The Philippines also received yesterday one million more doses of the CoronaVac vaccine – the fifth batch from China’s Sinovac Biotech to arrive this month, the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) said.

The NTF said the latest batch brings to 6.5 million the number of CoronaVac doses delivered this June. Sinovac has shipped 12 million doses to the Philippines since February.

The vaccines, transported via a Cebu Pacific flight from Beijing, were received at around 7:30 a.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 by Galvez and Health Undersecretary Maria Carolina Vidal-Taiño.

“We are grateful to Cebu Pacific and other carriers for assisting us in ensuring that these life-saving vaccines reach our country safely. We look forward to collaborating with the private sector as we anticipate the arrival of more vaccines in the coming months,” said Galvez.

All of the vaccines were preserved in temperature-specific refrigerated containers to maintain potency and efficacy until arrival at their?designated?stations.

The NTF said the Philippines has 10.1 million doses of Sinovac vaccine, including the latest arrival, plus one million doses from donations and 900,000 procured by local government units and the private sector.

Galvez was accompanied by Christian Martin Gonzalez, executive vice president of ICTSI, David Gamble Jr., economic counselor of the US embassy in the Philippines, officials of Zuellig Pharma and Taiño.

A total of 20 million Moderna vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the country this year, of which three million were procured by the government, while private firms led by ICTSI purchased seven million doses for their workers.

Galvez added that another batch of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX Facility will arrive before the end of June.

The government announced recently that it has struck a supply deal for 40 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine which are seen to reach the country by August.

Galvez said he signed the agreement along with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, marking the country’s biggest vaccine procurement so far this year.

He added that the 40 million doses will start arriving by August, with the shipments delivered in bulk. The purchase is separate from the supply of Pfizer doses that the Philippines got from COVAX in May and this month.

The Philippines has a total of 17,455,470 doses of vaccine supply from all brands as of yesterday. Currently, the Philippines has five COVID-19 vaccine brands in its supply inventory, which includes Sinovac, AstraZeneca from the UK, Sputnik V from Russia’s Gamaleya, Pfizer and Moderna from the US.

To achieve herd immunity, the Philippines is eyeing to vaccinate around 58 million or 60 percent of 83 million people who live in COVID-19 hotspots.

In its vaccine rollout update, the NTF said that as of 6 p.m. on June 27, a total of 10,065,414 doses have been administered nationwide.

Of this, 7,538,128 people have received their first doses, while 2,527,286 have completed the required two doses.

“The total doses administered in the 17th week of our national vaccination reached a record high of 1,658,072 doses,” the NTF said.

Canada’s excess vaccines

The Philippines has listed itself among those interested to get Canada’s excess COVID-19 vaccines, as the country offered a Canadian biotechnology company a pharmaceutical zone where it could build a vaccine production facility.

“Canada has a contract of about 180 million doses, and considering they are about 40 million, even if they get double they will have an excess of about 100 million doses, and I had the Philippines listed among those who are interested to get the excess of Canada,” Philippine Ambassador to Canada Rodolfo Robles said during a press briefing yesterday with presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr.

“We are being listed among those who are interested to partake of the excess of the 100 million (doses),” he continued.

The ambassador is in discussion with Canadian pharmaceutical company Medicago for the possibility of building its vaccine production facility in the Philippines.

“They have now a factory in Quebec City and they will be establishing two or three in different countries in the world. I offered our pharmaceutical zone in Bulacan, I think,” Robles said.

“I gave them all these perks of having it manufactured in the Philippines like free taxes, free capital importations and the like. We are still negotiation in progress,” he added.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical firm Faberco Life Science Inc. announced yesterday that COVID-19 vaccine CovovaxTM, which has an overall efficacy rate of 93.2 percent against variants of concern, will be available in the country by the third quarter of the year.

In a statement, Faberco medical director Luningning Villa said they have secured distribution rights to the vaccines in the Philippines.

“Manufacturing for CovovaxTM has started at Serum Institute of India, which is the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world. The target delivery to the Philippines of the first batch of CovovaxTM vaccines is within the third quarter,” she noted.

Serum Institute of India has an exclusive agreement to manufacture CovovaxTM for low- and middle-income countries such as the Philippines, using the latest COVID-19 vaccine technology developed by Novavax of the US.

The statement showed that the vaccines’ efficacy rate for variants of interest is 90.4 percent.

The vaccine also posted 91 percent efficacy in high-risk populations such as the elderly and those with comorbidities, and a 90.4 percent efficacy overall in the latest Phase 3 clinical study conducted in the US. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Pia Lee-Brago, Sheila Crisostomo

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