Gov’t to ink agreement purchasing 2 M doses of COVID vaccines from AstraZeneca

Published November 26, 2020, 3:38 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government and its partners in the private sector are set to sign an agreement that would secure two million doses of coronavirus vaccines from United Kingdom-based drugmaker AstraZeneca Friday.

This illustration picture taken in Paris on November 23, 2020 shows a syringe and a bottle reading “Covid-19 Vaccine” next to AstraZeneca company and University of Oxford logos. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The upcoming public-private tripartite agreement for the vaccine supply is in line with the government’s goal to secure “equitable access and guarantee” to the medicines aimed at protecting Filipinos from the new coronavirus disease, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

“Masaya po kaming ibalita sa inyo na nagbunga po ang mga pag-uusap dito. This coming Friday, pipirma po tayo ng tripartite agreement kung saan tayo po ay makakabili ng dalawang milyong doses ng bakuna mula sa AstraZeneca ng United Kingdom (We are happy to announce that the results of the negotiations have borne fruit. this coming Friday, we will sign a tripartite agreement where we will buy two million doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom),” Galvez said during a televised Palace press briefing.

“Kasama ang mga pribadong sektor na nag-donate po nito (The private sector that donated this will also be part of this),” said Galvez, also chief implementer of the government’s plan to fight the pandemic.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in the UK can reportedly protect up to 90 percent of people from getting the coronavirus based on recent clinical trials. The AstraZeneca vaccine is reportedly substantially cheaper compared to its rivals.

The latest vaccine is the third to produce efficacy results, following the experimental drugs made by US-based Pfizer and Moderna. Both Western-developed vaccines reportedly showed more than 90 percent efficiency.

The Philippine government recently identified P73.2 billion in funds to secure coronavirus vaccines for 60 million Filipinos. Talks with Pfizer and China’s Sinovac have been initiated for possible supply arrangements.

Once the vaccines arrive in the country, the priority beneficiaries of the government’s free vaccines are the country’s health workers, soldiers, cops, essential workers, and the country’s poor and vulnerable citizens.

According to Galvez, the government aims to attain “herd immunity” by vaccinating around 75 percent of the country’s population to effectively contain the outbreak. He noted that the government plans to acquire 25 million to 35 million vaccines every year until the herd immunity target is achieved.

Asked why the government’s vaccination program might take two to three years, Galvez explained that there are some challenges related to vaccine supply and demand. Under the “best case scenario,” Galvez said the coronavirus vaccines may be rolled out in the country by the second quarter of 2021.

Also, Galvez admitted that the country has limited cold storage facilities needed for the shipment of coronavirus vaccines. He noted that the government plans to conduct the immunization drive that can be handled by existing storage facilities.