PH lucky to get vaccines that are potent vs new coronavirus variants, Galvez says

Published February 9, 2021, 7:59 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country will “luckily” benefit from two coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines secured by the government that are believed to be effective against the new variants of the coronavirus, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday. 

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / MANILA BULLETIN)

Galvez informed President Duterte that the vaccines developed by Novavax and Johnson & Johnson have undergone clinical trials in the United Kingdom and other countries affected by the new coronavirus strain. 

Authorities earlier announced that the government has locked-in 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from the US-based Novavax.  An additional 10 million one-shot vaccines against the coronavirus from Johnson & Johnson are being negotiated by the government. 

“We have also some information on the development raising some concerns on vaccine performance against the new variants. So ito po ‘yung nagiging isang concern na ‘yung ibang mga vaccine na nabili natin ay kaya pong i-cover ‘yung variants ng UK, ‘yung South Africa at saka ‘yung sa Brazil (This has become a concern of some of the vaccines we purchased can cover the variants of UK, South Africa and Brazil),” Galvez said in his remarks aired on state television Monday, Feb. 8. 

“And luckily we have some ano — some — there are in our portfolio, like Novavax and Johnson & Johnson, who were tried during their ano — their clinical trial, it was tried in UK, in South Africa and also in Brazil,” he added. 

The President clarified with Galvez the “potency” of the country’s vaccine supply against the new variants of the coronavirus during the meeting on the pandemic response. The vaccine czar answered in the affirmative. 

“So in other words, Secretary Galvez, ‘yung bakuna na dadating sa akin (the vaccines that will arrive for me) is as equally good in terms of efficacy and potency against the new variant?” Duterte asked the former military general in charge of the country’s strategy to fight the coronavirus

Galvez replied: Yes, sir.” 

The President further inquired about the vaccines amid concerns about the new more infectious coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom. “Ito ngayong variant that is making the rounds in — well, it started I supposed they say sa UK. So ito ngayon covered ito?” he asked Galvez.

Galvez assured anew the President about the clinical trials on the Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

Iyong sa trial po ng Johnson & Johnson and also sa trial po ng ano ng Novavax which we have included in our portfolio kasama po ‘yon kasi ‘yung Novavax po kumuha po tayo ng 40 million doses,” he said. 

Apart from the two suppliers, the country is still trying to secure supply deals with other vaccine manufacturers to procure at least 178 million COVID-19 shots that will be good for 92 million people.   

Among the country’s potential vaccine suppliers are Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac Biotech and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute. The first batch of the supplies is expected to be delivered to the country this month. 

In the same meeting, Galvez briefed the President about the logistics preparations from the customs inspection , storage, transport to the distribution for the vaccine supplies in the country. With the initial 117,000 Pfizer vaccines set to arrive this month, he said measures are in place to prevent any delay and wastage in the forthcoming vaccine supply.

The Pfizer vaccines are part of the supply obtained by the Philippines under the COVAX facility, a global initiative to ensure equitable access of the lifesaving drugs.