MANILA, Philippines– The national government is close to completing negotiations with at least four international companies for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the earliest of which could be inked by the end of this month, a top government official involved in the procurement of a potential coronavirus cure has bared.
Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the country’s vaccine czar, said the government is in talks with British vaccine-maker Astrazeneca, China’s Sinovac, and the tandem of US-based biotechnology companies Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech.
“Nag-ne-negotiate na po tayo sa apat na malalaking kompanya kasama na po ang Sinovac from China, ‘yung AstraZeneca, at saka po ‘yung Pfizer (We are currently negotiating with big companies including Sinovac from China, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer),” Galvez told President Duterte in a televised Cabinet meeting aired on Monday night.
According to Galvez, the vaccine deal with AstraZeneca is the closest to completion. He said an advance commitment could be made by November 30 for the supply of 20 million doses of their product.
Once AstraZeneca’s vaccine becomes available in the market, the delivery of the country’s supply is set to commence in the second quarter of 2021.
“Nakita natin ang AstraZeneca po, maganda po dahil non-profit at saka pinakamababa po ang kanyang presyo, more or less five dollars lang (We have seen that the AstraZeneca [vaccine] is really good because it is non-profit and they have the lowest price, costing more or less five dollars [per dose]),” he said.
On the other hand, the negotiation with China’s Sinovac is being expedited through the intervention of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Galvez said the deal could be achieved through a G2G [government-to-government] financing.
Meanwhile, the deal with Pfizer and BioNTech is also ongoing with local officials in talks with the country representatives of the two international companies.
“Just in case makuha po natin ito, makakabuo po tayo ng 60 million next year (Just in case we secure these [deals], we will come up with 60 million [doses] next year),” Galvez said.
Currently, the government’s vaccine expert panel (VEP) is analyzing 17 potential vaccines, of which, nine were already in the Phase 3 trial.
Phase 3 trial involves the inoculation of a wide number of people to test the vaccine’s efficacy.
Of the nine vaccines that are in the advanced stages of trial, five are expected to conduct clinical trials here in the Philippines, Galvez said.
These are Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson’s Hansen, Russia-based Gamaleya, and China’s CanSino.
The race for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is heating up as companies start to release the results of their trials.
In the Philippine setting, a vaccine should be approved first by the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration before it could be rolled out into the market.