PH signs tripartite vaccine deal

Published November 27, 2020, 5:46 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement inked by Galvez, Concepcion, AstraZeneca

The national government on Friday signed a tripartite agreement with over 30 private sector representatives, led by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, and United Kingdom-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the supply of 2.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the country next year.

HOPE IN A BOTTLE The potential vaccine for Covid 19 has been reported to be 90 percent effective (Photo by Dado Ruvic / AFP)

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and the country’s vaccine czar, sealed the partnership with Concepcion, and Lotis Ramin, the country president of AstraZeneca Philippines.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is being developed in partnership with the Oxford University and was reported to have 70 percent efficiency against COVID-19.

The vaccines will be donated to the Department of Health (DOH), which will handle the deployment. Half of the donations will be set aside for government frontliners, while the other 50 percent will cover employees in the private sector – both regular and contractual – provided they follow the government’s priority sectors for distribution.

“With all these announcements, our Filipino people can be assured that we will not be left behind. With the efforts of Sec. Galvez in bringing the vaccine to this country, we will soon see this pandemic disappear,” said Concepcion, adding that he expects the vaccines to arrive by May or June 2021.

“We are working closely with regulatory authorities across the globe, and we really hope to be able to bring a solution here to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ramin.

AstraZeneca has a zero-profit program in 2021, which means the vaccines are priced as low as possible.

The cure is expected to cost around ₱500 ($10) for two doses.

“Our commitment extends beyond our employees and their dependents, to the community at large, prioritizing those who are in need. Our task extend[s] beyond procuring vaccines to helping optimize the end-to-end supply chain, distribution, and logistics,” said Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation.

“The procurement of the vaccine, albeit the small quantity relative to the overall need, is the first step towards recovery. Jointly, we need to work on controlling the spread of COVID-19 while at the same time, ensuring that we are able to function effectively [and] efficiently as an economy. With this vaccine, it would no longer be a trade-off between lives and livelihood,” said Tessie Sy-Coson, vice chairperson of SM Investments Corporation.

“This is an early Christmas gift for many Filipinos who have been coping with the pandemic for eight months now. We are happy to be part of this effort to help contain this pandemic, protect lives, and speed up economic recovery. [The] vaccine gives us hope for the future… Together, we will emerge from this crisis stronger,” said Ramon Ang, president and COO of San Miguel Corporation.

“I don’t think this would have taken off the ground unless all the credibility of everyone here was involved and all towards a common goal of really assisting the Filipino people in resolving this COVID crisis. Again, we’re very happy to be part of this partnership and we look forward to continuing to work in a tripartite way moving forward,” said Lance Gokongwei, Chairman of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation.

“This is just the first step in our fight with this virus. Hopefully, along the line, we’ll get enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire population and those who require it,” said Enrique Razon, chairman of the board and president of International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

More tests needed

On Thursday, the head AstraZeneca said further research was needed on its COVID-19 vaccine after questions emerged over the protection it offers, but the additional testing is unlikely to affect regulatory approval in Europe.

AstraZeneca and its partner, the University of Oxford, announced on Monday that it was seeking regulatory approval for the vaccine after it showed an average 70 percent effectiveness.

That rate jumped to 90 percent when an initial half-dose then a full dose was given, similar to that in rival vaccines in development by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

But US scientists have said the higher rate of effectiveness came during tests in people aged 55 and under, and was discovered by accident during the clinical trials.

The head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Andrew Pollard, said this week that further evidence will be available next month, but the result was still “highly significant”.

Vaccines paid by private sector

The agreement, which Galvez touted as among the first to be done across the globe, noted that the vaccines will be fully paid by the private sector.

It said half of the supply will be donated to the national government for the inoculation of poor Filipinos and frontliners among others while the other half will be distributed among the private sector.

“This pandemic has an upside. It has brought us closer together as a people, bringing out the best in everyone. We were all called upon to help and find solutions to this unprecedented public health crisis. This is because we know that our lives and the lives of our loved ones are at stake,” Galvez said.

“Through this partnership, we are thinking and acting ahead of the virus. Through the show of unity and selflessness, which we refer to as the bayanihan spirit, we are demonstrating to the world that although the pandemic knocked us down, we will rise up and come together as one,” he emphasized.

Aside from the delivery of the 2.6 million doses of vaccine, Galvez bared that there are also on-going negotiations with AstraZeneca for the provision of another 20 million doses of its vaccine that will be paid for by the national government.

“With all these announcements, the Filipino people can be assured that we will not be left behind. We will soon see this pandemic disappear,” Concepcion said.

With the tripartite deal reached, Galvez expressed confidence that the government is a step closer to its goal of inoculating about 60 million Filipinos in the next three to five years to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signing session was moderated by Josephine Romero, Project ARK lead.

The private sector signatories were Mario Deriquito of BDO Foundation, Richard Sanz of the Philippine Franchise Association, Michael Tan of Philippine National Bank, Manny Pangilinan of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Jhayner Bufi of LBC Express Holdings, Dennis Uy of Udenna Corporation, Carmelo Bautista of GT Capital Holdings, William Belo of Wilcon Depot, Paolo Borromeo of AC Health, Maribeth Marasigan of Aboitiz Foundation, Ted Belza Jr. of Penshoppe, Gerardo Borromeo of Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Marlon Rono of Magsaysay People Resources Corp., Glenn Yu of SEAOIL Philippines, Ricardo Cuerva of Nova Group, Andrew Gotianun of Filinvest Corporation, Felcaster Torres of YazakiTorres Manufacturing, Corazon Lim of Mercury Drug Corporation, Jose Antonio of Century Properties Group, Inc., Henry Lim Bon Liong of Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Atty. Kenneth Cheng of Bounty Fresh, Ronald Mascarinas of Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc., Raul Concepcion of Concepcion Industrial Corporation, Jose Ma. A. Minana Jr. of Jollibee Group of Companies, Mukesh Advani of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Philippines, Inc., Edgar Sia of Doubledragon Properties/ MerryMart, Jerome Ong of CDO Foodsphere, Erwin Go of GUR LAVI Group, Martin Yu of Shopee Philippines, and representatives from the First Philippine Holdings Corporation and Suyen Corporation. (With a report from AFP)