56M COVID-19 vaccine doses from US firms to arrive in Philippines by May —envoy

MANILA, Jan 29 (Mabuhay) — At least 56 million of COVID-19 vaccine doses made by American pharmaceutical companies are expected to arrive in the Philippines by May, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said Friday.

Romualdez said that these COVID-19 vaccine doses will be delivered to the Philippines under the COVAX facility—a global collaboration of manufacturers and experts that seeks to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

“Since May 2020, we have been reaching out to pharmaceutical companies here to secure immediate access to COVID-19 vaccine supply, a pathway to sustainable supply and even co-manufacturing the vaccine with Philippine entities, and I am happy to report that these [initiatives] have been fruitful,” Romualdez said at a virtual forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).

“We secured separate deals with Novavax, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson for 30 million doses, 20 million doses, and six million doses, respectively, and we see initial delivery as early as May,” he added.

Romualdez said that Philippine diplomats in the US are also working on securing a vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech thru COVAX.

It was the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine which secured the first ever emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration after it was found 92% to 95% effective. The second one given an EUA was British firm AstraZeneca after its COVID-19 vaccine was found 70% effective in preventing COVID-19 after the first dose—an efficacy rate that increases after the second dose.

“On Pfizer, we are working on something and this could be done very soon thru COVAX facility,” Romualdez added.

The Philippine government has already inked a 17 million COVID-19 vaccine doses supply deal with AstraZeneca so far, all funded by the private sector for donation to the Philippine government.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that the government is eyeing to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 this year in a best case scenario and that the vaccine rollout is expected to start in March.

Galvez also said that the Philippines will be assured of 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from seven companies namely Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac, Astrazeneca, Novovax, Johnson and Johnson, Gamaleya, and Bharat BioTech. (MNS)

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