Moderna, Arcturus ready to supply up to 25M COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, says envoy

MANILA, Dec 18 (Mabuhay) — Two more American biopharmaceutical firms Moderna and Arcturus are ready to supply four to 25 million of their respective COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, Manila’s top diplomat to Washington said Friday.

Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said the vaccines will be ready beginning third quarter of 2021 should the Philippine government find their proposals acceptable.

“We are hoping our government will consider the promising candidates of Moderna and Arcturus for inclusion in our country’s pool of anti-COVID vaccines,” Romualdez said in a statement.

A US panel of experts has voted to recommend emergency approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for six million doses to start shipping as soon as this weekend.

The US Food and Drug Administration is now expected to imminently grant an emergency use authorization (EUA), which would make Moderna’s vaccine the second to be approved in a Western country.

Romualdez’s remarks came amid allegations that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III botched the process of securing at least 10 million Pfizer vaccines by January 2021 for allegedly delaying the submission of a mandatory confidentiality agreement with the US firm.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo helped facilitate the supposed delivery of the vaccines to the Philippines by early 2021.

Without naming Duque, Locsin on Twitter said someone “dropped the ball” on the Pfizer vaccine delivery. Later on, Senator Panfilo Lacson named Duque as the one who made the mistake, causing the Philippines to miss the opportunity to secure the vaccine, which showed 95% efficacy with no serious side effects.

“They could have secured the delivery of 10 million Pfizer vaccines as early as January next year, way ahead of Singapore but for the indifference of Secretary Duque who failed to work on the necessary documentary requirement, namely, the confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA) as he should have done,” Lacson said.

Duque has denied that he botched the delivery, and Malacanang said President Roddrigo Duterte sees “no major lapse” on the part of the health secretary.

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