Covid-19 vaccine might be ready early next year — envoy

MANILA, Nov 11 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines may receive an initial supply of American-made vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) by early 2021 once talks are finalized and a contract has been signed, Philippine Ambassador to Washington D.C. Jose Manuel Romualdez said.

“Sa tingin ko by early next year, first quarter, magkakaroon na tayo ng (supply) by tranches ‘yan (I think by early next year, 1st quarter, we’ll be able to get the supply in tranches)… The demand is very high at least for the first tranches of this supply but they’re very confident na masu-supply nila ang lahat ng kailangan ng mga mag-o-order na ngayon (that they’ll be able to supply the needs of those who would order now),” he said in a pre-recorded interview with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Manila is in talks with various US pharmaceutical firms developing an effective vaccine against Covid-19, but the first company to approach the country was Pfizer, said Romualdez.

Pfizer’s candidate vaccine is at least 90 percent effective as shown in the company’s early data. With this, the envoy said the company is on track to get approval from US authorities ahead of other US manufacturers.

“Right now sila ang pinaka-nangunguna dito sa Amerika na ma-approve dahil 90 percent ang efficacy ng Pfizer (Right now the Pfizer is leading to get the first approval because its candidate vaccine is 90 percent effective)… It will be sold to many of their (US) allies, specifically in the Philippines na ‘di naman gaano kamahal (and it won’t be too expensive), it would be around USD5 per shot siguro,” he shared.

Aside from Pfizer, Moderna is also ready to supply the Philippines once its candidate vaccine is successfully tested.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier called out Western pharmaceutical firms who supposedly asked for “cash advance” for their candidate vaccines.

But Romualdez said the US-based firms Manila he is in contact with does not require any reservation fee, adding they only need the country to determine the number of doses it would purchase so as to secure the quantity once production starts.

“Actually wala silang hinihingi na downpayment o maski na ano. Ang kailangan lang siyempre ‘yong kontrata na we’re prepared to purchase, parang purchase order lang na pipirmahan natin that the government is prepared to purchase (Actually they’re not asking for a downpayment. They need the contract that we’re prepared to purchase, it’s like a purchase order),” he clarified.

Meanwhile, Romualdez said the business sector in Manila intends to help fund the vaccines if the government needs assistance.

“Lumapit sa amin ‘yong mga private sector na gustong tumulong sa Manila, ‘yong business sector. They’re prepared to fund kung kailangan ng tulong ng gobyerno, sila ang mamumuhunan dahil siyempre kailangan din nila para sa kanilang mga empleyado (The private sector approached us and they wanted to help. They’re prepared to fund if the government needs help, they will invest because they too need the vaccines for their employees),” he said. (MNS)

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