Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez on Monday told the Senate Committee of the Whole that the bulk of the COVID19 vaccines that will be made available in the Philippines will come from US pharmaceutical company Novavax.
Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the NTF Against COVID-19, signed a “term sheet” with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and its Philippine partner, Fabreco Life Sciences last Saturday, January 9, to nered with Novavax, a US-based biotechnology company to develop and commercialize the Covavax vaccine.
“The vaccine has the recombinant coronavirus spike protein nanoparticle and a Novavax-patented Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies. Covovax is in third-stage trials and is expected to be approved for use by international regulators,” the NTF said.
The Covovax vaccines are expected to arrive in the country in the third quarter of this year.
“Our main volumes will be coming from Novavax with 30 to 40 million doses,” Galvez said during the hearing.
“For Pfizer, we are negotiating for higher volumes of more or less 40 million; AstraZeneca 25 to 30 million doses, and Sinovac and Gamaleya for 25 million each,” he said.
He said the government can start rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination program in February possibly using either Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, or the Sinovac from COVAX, the global facility vaccine procurement and distribution effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
He said the Philippines might be receiving more or less 40 million doses from COVAX for 20-30 million people.
Galvez, however, said that 80 percent of the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines has gone to rich countries.
“The reality is that more than 80 percent of global supply has already been pre-procured by rich countries,” Galvez said.
“We are now trying our best to negotiate with different vaccine companies to get a fair share of the vaccines for the remaining 18 percent of the global supply,” he added.
He said the government will proceed with the procurement of the vaccines using the budget appropriated under the national budget for 2021 and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), through bilateral financing or government to government financing, tripartite agreement, and multilateral arrangements with major financial institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Galvez also assured that the government will prioritize frontline health workers, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, remaining indigent population, uniformed personnel, teachers, social workers, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and other essential workers outside of the health, education, and social welfare sectors in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
Covovax thoroughly evaluated Dr. Luningning Villa, medical director of the Faberco Life Sciences, said the Covovax vaccine was “thoroughly evaluated” in different geographies, various age groups, racial and ethnic minorities, and other groups that were most affected by COVID-19 including people living with HIV.
“The vaccine will be used to vaccinate 15 million vulnerable and poor Filipinos. The vaccine is stable at 2°C to 8°C, the standard temperature that is within the existing cold chain system in the Philippines, thus allowing its distribution to the remotest barangays,” Villa said.
She said that Covovax has undergone clinical trials involving a sizable population of around 50,000 subjects “to ensure extreme robust clinical data prior to approval by relevant regulatory bodies including the WHO.”
The candidate vaccine underwent the initial phase of its clinical trials in Australia, South Africa, and India, Villa said. She added that a phase three clinical trial is also being carried out in the United Kingdom with 15,000 subjects; and in the United States and Mexico with 30,000 subjects, respectively.
Around 50 to 70 million Filipinos are targeted to be vaccinated this year as the government steps up its efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, at least three companies have already applied for an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country. These are Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Russia’s Gamaleya.
LGUs acquire AstraZeneca vaccine doses
The Manila city government has secured an advance purchase of 800,000 coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) vaccine doses from British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso announced on Monday that he signed a tripartite agreement with AstraZeneca, the National Task Force Against COVID-19, and the Department of Health (DOH) for the procurement of the vaccines on January 5.
This will be enough to cover at least 400,000 of the city’s target population in its immunization plan, Domagoso said. He said the vaccine will arrive in the country “in the coming months.”
The Manila city government has allocated a ₱250-million budget to buy COVID-19 vaccines that will be distributed for free to residents and workers of the city.
Domagoso said the city government is prepared to buy COVID-19 vaccines from other multinational pharmaceutical companies once they secure approval for use and distribution from national health authorities.
San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said he signed a tripartite agreement with the national government, through the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, and AstraZeneca to provide the city with COVID-19 vaccines at the earliest possible time.
“This is just the beginning of our efforts to provide a safe vaccine against COVID-19 to our constituents in San Juan City,” Zamora said in a statement Monday.
The local government has allocated P50 million for the purchase of vaccines which will also be supplemented by the additional supplies from the national government.
Makati City has acquired one million doses of coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Mayor Abigail Binay said Monday.
Binay signed a tripartite agreement on Sunday with the British-Swedish biopharmaceutical company and the national government through the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
“We intend to vaccinate all Makatizens, including real property owners, business owners, and non-registered voters who reside in the city,” Binay said in a statement.
“We want them to be safe from the virus, and we are aiming for 100 percent vaccination in the city,” she added.
The city government has allotted ₱1 billion for the procurement of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to ensure that all of its residents will be inoculated for free.
Mayor Carmelita Abalos said Monday that Mandaluyong was among the first local government units to sign a multilateral agreement for the purchase of vaccines manufactured by the British pharmaceutical firm.
“We saw the urgency of the matter and had to act fast,” the mayor told the Manila Bulletin in a text message.
The local government has allotted ₱200 million for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco has signed a contract with AstraZeneca for the purchase of 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a Twitter post on Monday, January 11, Tiangco said about 50,000 residents will be inoculated starting the second half of 2021.
“For AstraZeneca only ₱25 million,” the mayor said when asked how much budget the city is allotting for the vaccine.
In a survey conducted on 6,128 Navotas residents, only 3.80 percent chose AstraZeneca.
Tiangco added that they will also buy vaccines from Pfizer once it becomes available, the vaccine of choice of 84 percent of Navotas residents according to a survey.
The Valenzuela city government signed a deal with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the purchase of 640,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the vaccine doses are enough to cover 70 percent of the city’s target population, or around 320,000 people.
The city government had set aside ₱150 million budget to procure the vaccines.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has signed a tripartite contract with the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and AstraZeneca to buy an initial 750,000 vaccine doses that will be given to 375,000 Quezon City residents.
The Caloocan City government signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for the purchase of 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines that will be distributed for free to the city’s residents, Mayor Oscar “Oca” Malapitan announced on Sunday.
He said that 300,000 residents will benefit from the initial supply of vaccines.
Earlier, Malapitan said that the city government earmarked a budget of ₱125 million for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi signed an agreement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals for the purchase of 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to initially inoculate residents in high priority groups including medical frontliners.
Fresnedi said the agreement is only an augmentation of the national government’s vaccination plan and noted that the Department of Health (DOH) will also provide additional vaccines for the rest of Muntinlupa residents.
The city earlier set aside an initial amount of ₱170 million for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines.
Las Piñas City Mayor Imelda Aguilar signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for the purchase of about 300,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. She is hoping that the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in the city this July.
On January 6, Aguilar announced that the ₱200-million budget has been allotted as an augmentation fund to the national government in buying vaccines and to be given for free to all Las Piñas residents. (With reports from Minka Klaudia S. Tiangco, Jhon Aldrin Casinas, Joseph Pedrajas, Gabriela Baron, Jonathan Hicap, and Jean Fernando)